Of Stones and Man explores the many errors of judgement made by civilizations both ancient and modern across the world. Arrogance and a penchant for excess drove mankind to build ever greater and more ambitious edifices. The author analyzes these works from a scientific and historically-sensitive perspective, highlighting the hydro-geological background to repeated infamous disasters, from the faults inherent in the Sphinx to the leaning Tower of Pisa. Beautifully illustrated throughout, Of Stones and Man is a testament to the impermanence of our surroundings. It questions how the earth and its resources have borne the cumulative burden placed upon it over the ages by one civilization after another, and how, in turn, the earth has exacted its inevitable revenge on the great constructions of our ancestors. Of Stones and Man is the final work of Jean Kerisel (1908-2005) who served as President of the International Society for Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering from 1973 to 1977, and who worked worldwide as a consultant on many ambitious engineering projects. Driven by his great passion for Ancient Builders and Egyptology, Kerisel here extends his professional knowledge into the realms of historical architecture.
Table of Contents
Introduction 1. Do Stones Possess a Soul?: Ancient Beliefs from Democritus to Lavoisier 2. The Song of Stones 3. Stone as a Messenger 4. Stone Obelisks to the Glory of the All-Powerful 5. The Art of Covering Space: Stone Capitals, Architraves and Vaults 6. Inside the Great Pyramid 7. Tutti Fuori, Niente Dietro: All for Show, Nothing Behind 8. Stones and Man in Religious Architecture: From Moderation to Excess 9. Stone Amid the Waves 10. The Panama Canal and the Soapstone of Culebra: A Gigantic Swindle 11. Works of Stone Engulfed by Sand or Water 12. Stone for the Eternal Home of the Pharaohs. Final Thoughts
Jean Kerisel was involved in a number of large-scale engineering projects, including the seven kilometer Maracaibo bridge linking the Northern part of Venezuela to Caracas. He was also involved in the construction of an industrial harbour in Sibari, Italy, and a dam in Brittany, France. He became advisor to construction companies working on the Paris metro and advised on express underground systems in other lands, for example Cairo. After chancing upon artefacts of ancient Egyptian activities at the bottom of excavation during the construction of the Cairo line, he visited all the main Pyramids and it was this research which led to a number of highly readable books.