This 35th volume in the series Cahiers d'archéologie jurassienne presents the glassblowing workshop or verrerie of Roche, in Rebeuvelier (Jura, Switzerland). The site was excavated prior to the construction of the A16 Transjurane motorway between Mai 2004 and February 2005.

The monograph is divided into three main sections, dealing respectively with the historical sources, the features and the finds. The short introductive chapter discusses the particularities and difficulties of excavating an industrial site (chap. 1). Chapter 2 examines the historical sources : archives, plans and pictures. The following chapters present the excavated features (chap. 3) and finds (chap. 4). Archaeometric and anthracological analyses were able to provide additional information on the processes employed in the glasshouse (chap. 5). The last chapter contains a synthesis of all this information (chap. 6).

The relatively young age of the site makes a combined historical and archaeological approach possible. It is interesting to note in what particulars and to what extent each of these two sources proves deficient, how they complete or corroborate each other. The glassblowing workshop of Rebeuvelier was founded ex nihilo in 1797 and continued to function until 1867, date of the final extinction of its melting furnace. The geographical situation of the site was the result of a careful selection : it was adjacent to the road linking the towns of Bienne and Basle, was close to the sources of essential raw materials (of wood in particular, but also of sand and clay) and contiguous to a stream that could provide hydropower. The workshop was designed as a durable installation. The excavation revealed the gradual development of the infrastructure of the furnace hall, which in turn clarified the spatial organisation of the different ovens and their place in the glass production sequence. The finds illustrate the different steps of this process and include the tools used in the production. No other artisanal activity occurred onsite after the end of the glass production.

Indifferently well preserved, the excavated features, belonging to the furnace hall and the mill, are presented in their chronological order and according to the development phases of the infrastructure. The activities within the furnace hall were organised around the melting furnace. The secondary ovens were placed along the sides of the hall in groups corresponding to their functions : raw materials were prepared along the northern side, annealing took place on the southern and eastern sides. Several auxiliary structures could be identified through the analysis of construction materials, residues found within the features and the spatial distribution of glass concentrations : a wood-drying kiln ; fritting furnaces, preheating ovens, annealing ovens and bending ovens for the last phase of glass production. Clay extraction pits dating to the initial phases of the site are located to the north of the melting furnace and show that technical ceramics such as crucibles were fabricated onsite. The architectural evolution of the ovens and furnaces demonstrates how the workshop was continuously modified to introduce the latest technical innovations invented in France, England and Germany. The excavation also revealed much about the edge mill and its mechanism. It was used to prepare raw materials (grinding grog, washing sand, etc).

The finds represent the entire glass production process, illustrating the different raw materials, production techniques, waste products and a large variety of finished objects. The collection of objects produced in the workshop is completed by an exhaustive presentation of stone, metal and pottery tools used by the glassblowers. Traces of everyday life in the hamlet surrounding the workshop were also recovered : tableware and cooking pots, buttons, shoes, toys and tobacco pipes are all part of the only well-dated assemblage of this kind and age in the canton of Jura.

The investigation of this site has been particularly instructive, on several levels. It was not only possible to reconstruct the technical development of regional glassblowing and characterise its products, the chronological gap between the oldest glasshouses of the Doubs valley and the Bernese Jura and the still existing workshops of Moutier could also be bridged. The information contained in this volume will undoubtedly contribute to a better understanding of 19th century glassblowing technology in Central Europe and clarify the place of this industry in the regional economy, a gain in knowledge that only industrial archaeology could have provided.

Translation: Robert Fellner