National Geographic : 2015 Oct
Ancient Worlds EXPLORE PHOTOS: MARTIN PARR, MAGNUM PHOTOS (TOP); M. EISENBERG, UNIVERSITY OF HAIFA Looks like the Leaning Tower of Pisa will keep on leaning, stably, awhile longer. More than a dozen years after major foundation work, the imperfect edifice hasn’t increased its lean. In fact, civil engineer John Burland of Imperial College London says his international team has succeeded in straightening the marble bell tower by 19 inches, reducing its angle of incline by about 10 percent, and slowing its once steady creep to nearly nothing. It wasn’t easy. Built from 1173 to 1370 on silt and clay, the eight-story, 182- foot-tall tower resisted many efforts to stabilize it. What finally worked was a soil- removal process called under-excavation and the addition of wells to regulate groundwater. The chief fear now? A big earthquake. “Absent that,” says Burland, “I’d be very surprised indeed if we see it lean significantly again.” —Jeremy Berlin Still Leaning GOD OF REVELRY FOUND IN ISRAEL On a road to the ancient city of Hippos- Sussita archaeologists uncovered an intriguing—and heavy—piece of metal. A thorough cleaning revealed a one-of-a-kind find: a bronze mask, almost a foot tall, depicting Faunus, a Roman god of the forests. In the first and second centuries the mask may have been used in rituals that included sacrifices, drinking, and orgies. “It’s only natural,” says dig director Michael Eisenberg, “that the city preferred those to be performed outside its walls.” —A . R. Williams Playful visitors lean in at the Tower of Pisa. The Italian campanile has defied gravity for more than 800 years.