Michelangelo’s statue of the Bible’s King David is in danger of collapsing in the not-too-distant future due to small cracks which have appeared on its ankles, Italian experts said.

The statue, which is located in Florence’s Galleria dell’Accademia museum, is over 500 years old and is one of the most famous works of art in the world. It stands 17 feet tall and weighs 5.5 tons

Scientists at Florence University and Italy’s National Research Council said the cracks, which have also appeared in the tree stump by the figure’s leg, may have been caused by vibrations from visiting crowds and cars and roadwork in the streets outside. They also blamed the region’s many earthquakes, the fact that the statue stood at a slight angle for more than a century, and the quality of the marble used by Michelangelo.

The statue stood in the city’s Piazza della Signoria for over 300 years before being moved to the art museum in 1873.

David by Michelangelo (photo credit: CC-BY-SA Rico Heil, Silmaril, Wikimedia Commons)

David by Michelangelo (photo credit: CC-BY-SA Rico Heil, Silmaril, Wikimedia Commons)

Scientists now say it may have to be moved to a quake-proof room or to an alternative location, and that its base must be strengthened to prevent it from crashing down under its own weight.

Michelangelo took more than two years to carve the statue, between 1501-1504. It was commissioned by the city’s leaders to symbolize Florence’s strength and ability to defend itself from other city states despite its small size.