Concealed carry comes to Renaissance sculpture:

Michelangelo’s David might have held a secret weapon in his overly large right hand, according to new controversial research into the towering depiction of the biblical hero who killed Goliath.

Presented at “Florens 2010: The International Week of Cultural and Environmental Heritage,” during a three-day tribute to Michelangelo’s masterpiece, the study concludes that David’s right hand is gripping the cylindrical fragment of a weapon.

“Bulging with veins, the right hand is holding what remains of a terrible weapon used in antiquity until the 17th century,” art historians Sergio Risaliti and Francesco Vossilla wrote in the book “L’Altro David” (“The Other David”).

Called a fustibal, or staff-sling,the weapon was used to throw stones.

“With a leather sling attached to the end, the staff acted like a portable trebuchet (a large catapult-like device),” classical folklorist Adrienne Mayor, who was not involved in the study, told Discovery News.

The Bible says that when David went to fight Goliath, he took up his shepherd’s staff, five smooth stones and his sling.

Of these, only the latter is represented in Michelangelo’s sculpture, as David holds the pouch of the sling in his left hand, above his shoulder.

Crossing his back down to the right hand, the straps of the rather long sling appear to be attached to a mysterious object.

“We believe the object is actually the handle to which a staff had to be mounted, much alike a golf pole,” Risaliti told Discovery News.

Combining the right hand and the left hand, the staff and the sling, Michelangelo would have actually fitted David with a fustibal, according to the researchers.

Standing high atop the Cathedral — this was the destination first envisioned for the sculpture — the weapon would have remained secret, as people would have only seen David holding a staff in his right hand and the sling’s pouch in his left.

“The staff was perfectly fitting a statue originally commissioned for Florence Cathedral. It would have rendered the biblical depiction of the shepherd boy,” Risaliti said.

Boasting a range of up to 600 feet, the fustibal was known since Roman times, and was first mentioned by the 4th century A.D. military writer Vegetius.

According to the researchers,  it was also well known when Michelangelo (1475 –1564) begun sculpting his David in 1501.

I’ve never heard of a “fustibal.”  Here’s a Medieval rendition of it in action:

Pretty neat, but I wish the name did not sound so much like that of a certain field sport beloved by much of the world, although pretty generally despised as nothing more than a way to ensure the kids get some exercise here in America.

Now, every time I think about David dropping Goliath, I’m going to hear a voice in my head yelling, “GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLLLL!!!!!!!”