Hey, Puzzlers! Today’s puzzle (60 pieces)–in advance of next week’s announcement of the winning pottery type names–is a pottery thin section from a ceramic rim sherd excavated at Alabama. A thin section is a piece of pottery cut down to a thickness of 30 microns (0.03mm). The thin sections are studied by observing the optical properties of minerals, rocks, and fired clay–the primary constituents of Maya pottery. Each mineral (and rocks composed of multiple minerals) has different optical properties that allow researchers to identify them under the microscope. This image [in cross-polarized light (XPL)] shows sand composed of rocks and minerals derived from the Cockscomb Batholith near Alabama. In this image, you can see quartz, felspar, muscovite, biotite, and granite. The composition of this sherd is nearly identical to clay samples from a drainage located in the Alabama settlement area suggesting that potters selected naturally sandy clay and did not add temper (a material added to improve the quality of the clay for pottery production) to make this kind of pottery. Enjoy!