Moving beyond characteristics that can be seen with the naked eye, such as shape, style, and decoration, ceramic petrography puts thin samples of pottery under the microscope in order to understand where and how pots were produced. Under the microscope, inclusions in the clay are visible, such as different types of minerals, rocks, and microfossils, and identifying them can help point toward clay sources that were used in the past to produce pots and the temperatures at which they were fired. Other aspects of clay preparation can also be studied with this technique, such as the coarse or fine nature of the clay and any temper that was added. Reconstructing the production process in this way provides information not only about how pots were made but about the entire network surrounding their production and the social interactions that both governed and were shaped by it.

Petrography sample with mixed inclusions