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Specularia is an innovative scientific project combining research and craftsmanship. It is part of Géraldine Frère's doctoral thesis, entitled "De sable à fenêtre. Production and consumption of window glass between the 1st and 4th centuries in northern Gaul". Through this work, the researcher is seeking to understand the factors that shaped the window glass industry in Roman times, as well as its installation in architecture at that time.

Specifically, the project aims to determine by whom, for whom, how, where and when glass was produced. To achieve this, a multi-disciplinary methodology has been put in place: the Specularia experimental archaeology project is one of the many avenues being explored to unravel the mysteries of this industry.

The aim of the Specularia project is to reconstruct, in real-life conditions, the entire glass-making process in Roman times: what the craftsmen did, their working conditions, the time it took to produce a pane of glass, the steps they took, the costs involved, the materials used, and so on. To do this, two glassmakers' furnaces have been reconstructed at the Malagne Archaeopark in Rochefort, a partner in the project. Assisted by glassmakers, the scientific team will take part in the construction and casting of the glass panes. Each stage will be documented in detail. Read more about the experiment (in French)...

On 15 and 16 July, during the Gallo-Roman Rendezvous in Malagne, the public will be invited to discover the various stages in the manufacture of Roman window glass, in the presence of Géraldine Frère and master glassmakers.

Several tests will be carried out according to a very precise scientific protocol that has been mentioned in scientific literature for almost a century, but never before tested!

The results of the experiment will be presented to the scientific community, schools and the general public. The glass furnaces will continue to be available at the Malagne Archaeopark as part of its educational trail. A documentary will be produced to illustrate the experiment and shown at archaeology festivals. The project will also be the subject of scientific and general public communications in Belgium and abroad.

Keep up to date with the Specularia project

Visit the Specularia project logbook (in French) to follow the various stages of the experiment in pictures. The project began on 2 May 2023.

Crowdfunding

The Specularia project involved the purchase of unusual supplies for laboratory research: fireclay, tiles, river sand, etc. To raise the necessary funds, UNamur launched a crowdfunding campaign. The operation was a success thanks to the efforts of alumni, donors, friends of UNamur and several supporters: AGC Glass Europe, the Museum of Glass of the city of Charleroi and the National Lottery and its players. The UNamur would like to thank all the partners and supporters who came forward to help make this project a reality!

Continue to support the project: send your donation online (mention Specularia in the "project" box) or by transfer to UNamur's account BE92 3500 0000 0123, mentioning: DONATION + 5847850 + Specularia. Donations online and by transfer are tax deductible from €40!

The team

  • Julian Richard, archaeologist and professor at UNamur
  • Géraldine Frère, archaeologist and doctoral researcher at UNamur
  • Malagne, the Rochefort Archaeopark
  • A listed site and monument, Malagne is home to a remarkable archaeological heritage. Protecting and promoting its remains through research and outreach are the main thrusts of its missions, which it implements through reconstructions, publications and experimental archaeology projects.
  • Allain Guillot
  • Master glass-maker and Meilleur Ouvrier de France, Allain Guillot is an expert in cane-blowing. He regularly works with museums and archaeologists on experiments involving ancient processes.
  • Les Infondus: Chloé Grevaz and François Dubois

Glassblowers and members of the Association Française de l'Archéologie du Verre, Chloé Grevaz and François Dubois work with a number of researchers, archaeologists and master glassmakers on the habits and customs of craftsmen of yesteryear. François Dubois was awarded the title of Best Worker in France in 2011.

Specularia is supported by

Logos partenaires Spécularia