“Extraction techniques documented in Roman times were based on the exploitation of the main fracture lines in the marble,” says Giovanni Massa from the Center for GeoTechnologies at the University of Siena. “With hammers and metallic scalpels, they created the so-called caesura cut on the marble, then enlarged this cut by hitting it with sticks, iron or wooden wedges until it opened.”

In the 18th century, thanks to the introduction of explosives (black powder), quarrying operations became much faster. However, massively increased production became possible only with the introduction of special machinery in the 19th century, such as the wire stone, or helicoidal, saw that allowed the cutting of many blocks at once.

“But the real revolution in extraction happened just 30 years ago with the introduction of the diamond wire and the diamond chainsaw, actioned by powerful machinery that can work both plain or at predetermined angles,” Massa says.

In Roman times, there were two ways to carry marble blocks down to the valley: sliding them freely from the mountain (a dangerous method that damaged the stone) or transporting them on a lizza, a sort of wooden sledge controlled by strong ropes. These sledges slid along slipways created for this purpose. To this day, the “lizza ways” are visible along the hillsides of the Apuan Alps.

The lizzatura system was abandoned only after the Second World War with the arrival of heavy vehicles with tires. The spread of the railways made marble transportation and trade easier, resulting in wider demand.

Source: https://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/70624235/list/8-things-you-didnt-know-about-italian-marble