Jean Kérisel

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Jean Lehuérou Kérisel (1908–2005) was a French engineer and Egyptologist. He was a specialist in soil mechanics and geotechnics. After studying at Ecole Polytechnique and Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées, he became a pioneer in understanding and modeling the way soil interacts with man built structures. He had a rich career, as a civil servant (he notably led the reconstruction effort in France after World War II, from 1944 to 1951), as an entrepreneur (he founded the soil mechanics engineering firm called SIMECSOL), and as a teacher and a writer. He married Suzy Caquot, the daughter of Albert Caquot, in 1931. Towards the end of his life, he applied his engineering skills to examining old buildings with a different perspective. An engineer's perspective in the field of Egyptology for instance led him to the publication of interesting theories about the Kheops pyramid and where the actual Kheops tomb might be located. He also wrote books about the "invisible art of the builder" (foundations) and "of stones and man", a set of thoughts about the skills and limitations of great builders through history. He received numerous distinctions for his work, becoming the President of the French Committee for Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering (1969-1973) and the President of the International Society of Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering (ISSMFE - 1973-1979). He was awarded an "honoris causa" PhD by the universities of Liege and Naples, and was honored by the Hungarian Science Academy and the British Geotechnical Society. He was "Commandeur de la Legion d'honneur" in France.