Petrography: Optical Microscopy

Patrick Degryse, Dennis Braekmans

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeChapterScientific


    Petrography has developed into an indispensable tool for ceramic fabric analysis, specifically studying the mineralogical and textural composition of ceramic objects. Petrography is a technique commonly used in geology to describe and classify rocks. Ceramic petrography studies clay-based archaeological or historical materials. Using a polarizing light microscope (PLM) in ceramic studies, the different raw materials used to make a ceramic object can be identified, ranging from clays and other minerals to rock fragments and inorganic or organic temper. The technique moreover feeds into the study of raw material provenance and origin, and is able to discern the different technological procedures followed to make the ceramic object (from shaping to firing), next to providing clues on the function of the object. This information not only helps reconstruct trade and exchange of raw materials and ceramics, but aids in reconstructing society behind the pot.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Archaeological Ceramic Analysis
    EditorsAlice Hunt
    Place of PublicationOxford, UK
    PublisherOxford University Press
    ISBN (Print)9780199681532
    Publication statusPublished - 2017


    • petrography
    • ceramic objects
    • mineralogical composition
    • polarizing light microscope
    • raw materials


    Dive into the research topics of 'Petrography: Optical Microscopy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this