Starting out with the newest of the secondary professions, Archaeology, I really had no idea what I was doing or how I was supposed to go about doing whatever it was that I was supposed to be doing. Confusing, eh? Exactly. Through asking various guildies about how exactly one leveled this profession — among other things – I have come to really enjoy the different mechanics included here and I eagerly look forward to the phat lootz that will be bestowed upon me with further leveling. I found that there were several other friends and guildies equally as confused as I was when embarking on this new adventure. So, to make life a little easier for you, I have written a quick and comprehensive guide on how to use your new skill and what you can get out of it if you take the time to do so.
The first, and most obvious, step in learning Archaeology is actually learning it. This is trained by several different NPCs in various places, but the main ones include the one and only Harrison Jones, located in the Stormwind Library for those of you that are Alliance, and by Belloc Brightblade located in the Valley of Strength in Orgrimmar for those of you that are Horde.
Finding Dig Sites
Now, some think, just like I initially thought, that you can go anywhere and start surveying and find cool stuff. This is not the case, however. First, you need to open up your world map and zoom out enough so that you can see the whole of the continent that you are on. Keep in mind that you must level Archaeology in Kalimdor and/or The Eastern Kingdoms ’til you have reached a skill level of 300 before you can move on to Outlands. You may go to Northrend at a level of 375, and then to the Cataclysm zones when you’ve reached 450.
When you zoom out so you can see the entire continent, you will notice little shovels in various zones, as shown below:
Go towards the shovel! This means that there is a dig site in that location where you can begin to unearth all the goodies. There will always be four dig sites available on each continent.
When you reach the zone with the shovel, you’ll want to have your map zoomed back in so that you can see the specific dig sites and where exactly you need to go to reach them. The dig sites will be a red blob on your map, looking like this:
Once you get within the dig site boundaries (which will not be visibly shown in the world, you must look at your map to determine if you are within them or not), you may begin surveying the area.
To survey and dig up artifact fragments, simply click on your “Survey” button, which you received upon training Archaeology and can be found in your Professions tab. A telescope will appear with an antennae thing next to it, and on top of this antennae is a color. There are three different colors that can appear: Red, Yellow, and Green. Red means that you are still fairly far away from the fragment located within the dig site, yellow means you are getting closer, but still a little ways off, and green means that you are getting really close!
Well, this seems like a wild goose chase! How do I know where I’m supposed to be going to find these fragments?
That’s where the telescope comes in! The wider, lensed end of the telescope will point in the direction that you need to go in order to get closer to the fragment. Basically, you just keep using your Survey action until you have finally uncovered the fragments in question!
There will be a total of 3 sets of fragments per dig site. Each set that you uncover will contain a totel 3 fragment pieces to start, and when you reach a higher skill level in Archaeology, the sets that you uncover from surveying will have between 3 to 6 fragments each, making it possible to get a whopping 18 fragments per dig site.
Some people have been worried that others who are surveying in the same area, at the same time as them, will be able to steal their findings – but this is not the case. Archaeology is a phased profession, meaning that no one else can see, nor take, the fragments that you dig up — they can’t even see your telescope and light pole — and you can’t see anything of theirs.
Using Fragments to Solve and Complete Artifacts
Before you set out to solve any artifacts with the fragments you have collected, a good thing to do is level your Archaeology to a skill level of about 40 – 50 simply by digging them up. The reason for this is that once you reach the 100 skill level, you can not gain any more skill points from collecting fragments and the only way to continue to level Archaeology past 100 is by solving artifacts. I generalize the range of 40 – 50 because getting from 40 to 50 by collecting fragments takes a long time and some people do not wish to spend the extra time doing this and would rather start solving artifacts.
Now that we have that tid bit out in the open, let’s talk about the fragments you have and how to make them into something. There are a variety of different fragment types, depending on the dig sites available to you; some are fossils, some are dwarven, some are from night elves, etc..
Each dig site will give one specific type of fragment and no more. Most fossil dig sites will tell you that it is a “fossil field”, or something of the sort, when you hover your mouse over the shovel on the zoomed out map, but for the majority of them you will not know what you are getting until you dig them up. You can usually guess what fragments you’ll get from a dig site, however, based on the type of ruins they are and the mobs that occupy them.
Take, for example, the Hinterlands. There are several ruins in this zone, mainly occupied by trolls, hence you will receive Troll artifact fragments by digging in these sites. You get good at recognizing them after a while!
Where can I view which fragment types I have, and how many?
Another excellent question! When you open up your Professions tab, next to your “Survey” ability, there will be one for Archaeology. Click on that, and this new in-game menu will appear:
The images that appear on this menu represent the different types of fragments that you can collect. All of these will be grayed out to start with (like the ones in the bottom left hand corner of the above image), meaning you have not collected any fragments from any of these race categories yet. Once you start collecting them, the appropriate icon representing that fragment type will become colored and active (like the rest of the icons in the above image). When this happens, you may now click on that image and it will bring up a new menu for that specific fragment type, looking similar to this:
There are a few things to note on this particular menu, one of which being the orange bar on the very bottom. The numbers in the middle of it represent how many fragments you have collected so far, and how many you ultimately need in order to solve the artifact. In the image above, you can see that my character has collected 13 fragments so far, but needs a total of 30 in order to finish it.
When you have collected enough fragments, you may solve it! Simply click on the “Solve” button — which is grayed out until you have enough fragments — and you will create the artifact that you have been working on and it will be placed in your bags for vendoring/use.
*Please note that you can only carry 200 of each type of fragment, so start solving before you reach the cap!*
This brings me to the next point of discussion – the artifact you are working on. You can not control which artifacts you solve and in which order, but when you click on one of the artifact category menus, it will tell you what you are currently working towards solving, found in the top left hand corner. In the image shown previously, you can see that my character is working on “Fetish of Hir’eek”, a Common Troll artifact.
When you are done with this more race specific menu, and you wish to go back to the main one, simply click on the purple tab that sticks out on the right hand side. You may also switch between race categories by using the drop-down menu in the top right hand corner.
Runes, Scrolls and Tablets, etc.
As you level up Archaeology, you will notice that every now and then when you uncover something from a dig site and collect your fragments, you also collect another item, which is placed in your bags. This item will be of an uncommon value (green), and is either a Rune, a Scroll, a Tablet, or something of the sort.
What are these for and how are they used?
When you get to a higher level in this profession, you will eventually be able to solve artifacts all the faster by using these new items in conjuction with your collected fragments. It should be noted that not every artifact will allow you the ability to use these to aid in the solving process, and they may only be used with their corresponding race category; the Runes go with dwarven artifacts, the Tablets go with troll artifacts, etc..
How do I tell when I can use one?
Underneath your orange progress bar, there will be an empty, hexagonal socket, as shown in the picture below:
This is where the rune/scroll/tablet will be placed. Each of these makes up for 12 missing fragments, and sometimes an artifact will allow you to use more than one of these items, as shown in the next image:
As you can see, the first socket is more opaque in color than the other, which is very feint and considered inactive. When you place a rune into the first socket, the subsequent socket will then become equally visible as the first and is now considered active, ready for a rune to be placed inside of it.
If you are close to completing an artifact, say 30/35, and there is an empty rune socket … go ahead and use it! The rune will apply the five fragments that you are missing, and once you have completed the artifact, the remaining 7 fragments from the rune will then be applied towards the completion of your next artifact. You will not be wasting the runes in way, shape or form; they always use all 12 of the fragments.
There are two main types of artifacts that you can solve: Common and Rare. In the previous images, you can plainly see that they are all Common artifacts, as shown below the name of the artifact in the top left hand corner. The vast majority of your artifacts will be Common and award 5 skill points for each one that you solve, but every now and then you will be able to work on solving a Rare one, as shown below:
The Rare artifacts take more fragments by far to solve, as you can see, but are also usually worth the extra effort. Unlike a Common artifact, a Rare one will award you 10 skill points upon completion and you can only complete them once. This particular one is a Fossilized Raptor Mount, others include fun doo-dads, as well as epic gear as high as ilvl 359 that is BoA (Bound to Account, meaning you can transfer it to other characters if the particular one that completed the artifact has no use for it). You may find a listing of all the solvable artifacts, both Common and Rare, at wowhead.com here: Archaeology Loot Table.
The very last menu to go over is the “Completed Artifacts” menu, which is found by clicking on the blue tab that sticks out from the right hand side. This is just an overview of all the artifacts — both Common and Rare — that you have solved and collected during your digging adventures, as shown below:
And that, my friends, is pretty much all there is to it! Dig as much as you can, use your runes and scrolls to help the process along, and reap the benefits. Happy digging!