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    Archaeology: surveying epics

    Table of contents

    1. Introduction
    2. Requirements
    3. If you are new to Archaeology
    4. Useful Addons and macros
    5. General plan
    6. List of artifacts
    7. Continents and dig sites
    8. Afterword


    I’ve decided to write this guide because Archaeology is quite popular these days. However, many of those working on different rare artifacts have no idea how to make it properly. My friends and guildies are wasting time and efforts, while having no significant results. I hope this guide will help them (and you, of course) in reaching the ultimate goal: getting epics!


    1. Your character should be at least level 70, with 280% or 310% speed flying mount and Azeroth flying license (you’ll also need Cold weather flying, if you’re going to dig in Northrend).
    Using 150% speed flying mount will result in a big time waste. If you’re planning to work on Nerubian or Tol’vir artifacts, your character should be at least level 80, or you’re going to come across a lot of problems while killing monsters in Outland or Uldum.

    Level and skill requirements for learning Archaelogy are:

    If you have a dwarf toon (or you are Alliance and your main is a dwarf), you better use it for digging. Dwarves’ racial, Explorer, is said to give an additional ~15% archaeological fragments. It means that instead of getting 3-6 fragments per one successful survey, dwarves are getting 3-7.

    2. Be ready to spend a lot of your free-time.
    The chance of getting an epic is less than 1%, which means that you have to solve at least 100 projects to get one (and it may be not the one that you’ve desired to get). And it will take a lot of time. In fact, you should spend all your free time not AFKing in your capital city, but digging.

    3. Be patient and believe in yourself!
    You will solve the same projects over and over again. Most of the artifacts you’re going to get would be pretty useless and cheap; they will irritate you. Be ready to hate Archaeology, Blizzard and everyone around you if you couldn’t get your epics quickly.

    If you are new to Archaeology

    If you’re quite familiar with Archaeology and have an idea about how it works, skip this section.

    You can learn Archaeology from the following trainers:



    Learning the skill will give you two new abilities: the profession itself and Survey, which lets you investigate the land around you and find archaeological fragments. Open your world map: you would see four shovels. If you open the map of the location, marked with shovel, you would see red zones. These are dig sites.

    There are 4 dig sites for each continent, they appear randomly, depending on your skill level:

    So, you can only dig Dwarf, Troll, Fossil and Night Elf fragments with skill level 1, and you can dig all possible fragments with skill level 450.

    Choose the location where you are going to dig. Get there and enter the red zone. It’s time to use Survey! You’ll see a telescope and a post with a colored light. Telescope shows the direction where you should move, and the color of the light shows, how far you are.

    If you are moving in the right direction, you would see the yellow, and then the green light, which indicates that you are really close to digging out the fragments. You can dig out fragments from each dig site only 3 times. When you’ve dug your fragments 3 times, you can no longer dig in this dig site, and you’ve randomed another one on this continent. You can level up Archaeology on digging fragments until 100. When you’ll reach 100, all fragments will be gray.

    When you open your Archaeology profession, you would see projects to solve, sorted by race. When you get enough fragments, you can solve a project, and that’s how you level your skill past 100.

    Solving a common artifact increases your skill by 5, solving a rare artifact – by 15. Also, some artifacts have slots for key fragments (all races except Fossil – they don’t have any key fragments).

    Key fragments are green items, which you sometimes can obtain together with fragments. Key fragments are not BoP, so you can trade or exchange them. Inserting the key fragment will add 12 fragments to your project, so you should always try to insert the key fragment, when you see a free slot. There is no cap of the amount of fragments of each race. So when you insert the key fragment, all 12 fragments will be added to those you already have (even if you have enough fragments to solve the project). To insert a key fragment, just click an empty slot in your artifact tab or drag and drop the key fragment to an empty slot.

    Useful Addons and macros

    Tracks projects and dig sites, shows the amount of fragments and key fragments you have. But the most useful feature of this addon is the range checker. Archy shows the distance that you’ve passed, with the corresponding color:

    This feature helps a lot and saves a lot of time.

    Marks the places where you’ve dug before with little shovels and circles.

    Also, you may use one of the following addons:
    - Gatherer (instead of GatherMate 2)
    - Archaeology Helper (draws HUD using GatherMate 2 pins, rather accurate and therefore extremely useful)
    - Minimal Archaeology (lets you view all your artifacts progress and solve them in one compact frame)

    In addition, there is a useful macro to count the total amount of the artifacts you’ve got:
    /run print("Total artifacts"); for x=1,9 do local c=GetNumArtifactsByRace(x); local a =0; for y=1,c do local t = select(9, GetArtifactInfoByRace(x, y)); a=a+t;end local rn = GetArchaeologyRaceInfo(x); if( c > 1 ) then print(rn .. ": " .. a); end end

    Run it, watch and copy-paste to /guild to scare your guildies. :3

    General plan

    Before you begin to level up your Archaeology, you should choose an artifact (or artifacts) you would like to get. You can find the list of all available artifacts with descriptions in a related section of this guide; it might help you if you haven’t made up your mind yet. After that, you should choose the continent, where you are going to dig. I’ve made a list of all dig sites, which you can find in the related guide section; it will help you to make your choice. Night Elf artifacts said to be the easiest ones to get (due to a large number of Night Elf digsites, 41 in total), meanwhile Nerubians and Tol’vir are the most hardcore of all (however, Tol’vir rares seem to proc more often than the others).

    You should not solve any projects until your Archaeology skill reaches 100. After that, you might want to stack only those fragments, which are needed for the rare artifact of your choice, until your skill reaches 450 (you can get rare projects of epics only if your Archaeology skill level is 450 or higher). E.g., if you want to get a Zin'rokh, Destroyer of Worlds, you shouldn’t solve Troll projects until your Archaeology skill level reaches 450. This method slows your profession leveling greatly, but at the same time it increases your chance of getting an epic.

    Also, many Wowhead comments, guides and people say that chance of getting a rare item depends on your skill level, on the amount of projects you’ve solved and so on. I consider it to be almost completely random. For example, my friend got his Zin'rokh, Destroyer of Worlds after completing 101 Troll projects; another friend of mine has solved already 182 and still got nothing.

    Here are some useful tips:

    • If you’re working on a Dwarf rare item, reaching 450 Archaeology skill will give you 4 additional Dwarf dig sites in Twilight Highlands.
    • Don’t forget that key fragments are not BoP, so they can be traded. You might want to sell them on AH (they cost about 150-200 gold per one on my realm), or exchange them with your friends or guildmates.
    • You’ll get Fossil rare projects, mount and pet, while leveling your Archaeology. They do not require 450 skill level, so there’s no need to stack Fossil fragments and wait.
    • If you are Horde, it’s better to make Undercity or Brill your home location when you’re digging in Eastern Kingdoms. They’re located both near zeppelin towers and in Eastern Kingdoms, and HSing there might save you some time.

    List of artifacts

    Name – Fragments required – Comment

    Dwarf (31 items total, 4 rares)
    Chalice of the Mountain Kings - 100 Fragments – summons 4 dancing female dwarves and plays some music
    Clockwork Gnome - 100 Fragments – gnome pet, looks like Mimiron
    Staff of Sorcerer-Thane Thaurissan - 150 Fragments
    The Innkeeper's Daughter - 150 Fragments – a Hearth stone. Shares cooldown with your HS and summons a ghostly female dwarf, who will follow your character for some time

    Night Elf (25 items total, 7 rares)
    Tyrande's Favorite Doll - 150 Fragments
    Bones of Transformation - 150 Fragments – turns your character into a naga for 20 secs
    Druid and Priest Statue Set - 100 Fragments – creates a pillar of green light
    Highborne Soul Mirror - 100 Fragments – creates a ghostly copy of your character
    Kaldorei Wind Chimes - 98 Fragments – plays a chimes sound and shows the emote «<Name> holds his [Kaldorei Wind Chimes] to the wind» (the emote depends on weather)
    Queen Azshara's Dressing Gown - 100 Fragments
    Wisp Amulet - 150 Fragments – turns your character into a wisp for 20 sec

    Fossil (14 items total, 2 rares)
    Fossilized Hatchling - 85 Fragments – a bone raptor hatchling pet
    Fossilized Raptor - 100 Fragments – a bone raptor mount

    Troll (15 items total, 1 rare)
    Zin'rokh, Destroyer of Worlds - 150 Fragments

    Draenei (10 items total, 2 rares)
    Arrival of the Naaru - 124 Fragments – shows a short cut scene with Naaru and draenei on use
    The Last Relic of Argus - 130 Fragments – randomly ports you to one of 20 locations

    Orc (10 items total, 1 rare)
    Headdress of the First Shaman - 130 Fragments

    Nerubian (9 items total, 2 rares)
    Blessing of the Old God - 140 Fragments - turns your character into a Green Qiraji Battle Tank for 20 sec
    Puzzle Box of Yogg-Saron - 140 Fragments – whispers random creepy phrases on use

    Vrykul (6 items total, 1 rare)
    Nifflevar Bearded Axe - 130 Fragments

    Tol'vir (13 items total, 7 rares)
    Crawling Claw - 150 Fragments – a hand pet
    Pendant of the Scarab Storm - 150 Fragments – summons a stack of scarabs
    Ring of the Boy Emperor - 150 Fragments
    Scepter of Azj'Aqir - 150 Fragments - Ultramarine Qiraji Battle Tank mount
    Scimitar of the Sirocco - 150 Fragments
    Staff of Ammunae - 150 Fragments
    Recipe: Vial of the Sands – drops from Canopic Jar – alchemical receipt, teaches you how to create a Vial of the Sands mount (receipt is BoP)

    Continents and dig sites

    Eastern Kingdoms

    Dwarves: 18 dig sites total (3 in Wetlands, 1 in Arathi Highlands, 1 in Hinterlands, 3 in Badlands, 4 in Twilight Highlands, 2 in Burning Steppes, 1 in Hillsbrad Foothills, 1 in Loch Modan and 2 in Searing Gorge);
    Fossil: 13 dig sites total (3 in Western Plaguelands, 2 in Blasted Lands, 1 in Duskwood, 1 in Wetlands, 1 in Northern Stranglethorn, 1 in Hillsbrad Foothills, 1 in Swamp of Sorrows, 1 in Burning Steppes, 1 in Eastern Plaguelands and 1 in Redridge Mountains);
    Night Elves: 2 dig sites total (1 in Duskwood and 1 in Eastern Plaguelands);
    Trolls: 20 dig sites total (8 in Northern Stranglethorn, 4 in Cape of Stranglethorn, 5 in Hinterlands, 1 in Eastern Plaguelands, 1 in Arathi Highlands and 1 in Swamp of Sorrows).

    Conclusion: choose Eastern Kingdoms if you’re working on Dwarf or Troll rare.


    Dwarves: 1 dig site total (in Southern Barrens);
    Fossil: 13 dig sites total (5 in Un'Goro Crater, 2 in Desolace, 2 in Tanaris, 2 in Dustwallow Marsh, 1 in Stonetalon Mountains and 1 in Southern Barrens);
    Night Elves: 35 dig sites total (8 in Feralas, 5 in Mount Hyjal, 4 in Felwood, 4 in Desolace, 3 in Winterspring, 4 in Ashenvale, 2 in Stonetalon Mountains, 2 in Azshara, 1 in Silithus, 1 in Darkshore and 1 in Southern Barrens);
    Tol'virs: 8 dig sites total (all 8 in Uldum);
    Trolls: 5 dig sites total (all 5 in Tanaris).

    Conclusion: choose Kalimdor if you’re working on Night Elf, Tol'vir or Fossil rare.


    15 dig sites total (4 in Terokkar Forest, 4 in Shadowmoon Valley, 3 in Netherstorm, 2 in Zangarmarsh, 1 in Hellfire Peninsula and 1 in Nagrand);
    Orc: 13 dig sites total (4 in Hellfire Peninsula, 4 in Nagrand, 3 in Terokkar Forest and 2 in Shadowmoon Valley).

    Conclusion: choose Outland if you’re working on Draenei or Orc rare.


    Nerubian: 5 dig sites total (2 in Borean Tundra, 1 in Dragonblight, 1 in Zul'Drak and 1 in Icecrown);
    Nigh Elf: 4 dig sites total (2 in Crystalsong Forest, 1 in Dragonblight and 1 in Borean Tundra);
    Troll: 5 dig sites total (4 in Zul'Drak and 1 in Grizzly Hills);
    Vrykul: 14 dig sites total (7 in Howling Fjord, 3 in Icecrown, 3 in Storm Peaks and 1 in Grizzly Hills).

    Conclusion: choose Northrend if you’re working on Nerubian or Vrykul rare.


    Thank you for reading this guide. I hope you’ve found some useful facts here, and I wish you good luck in your journeys. May all epics be yours! Also, I’m terribly sorry for my bad English. ^_^ As you might guess, I’m not a native speaker.
    If you have any further questions, please contact me on my e-mail: [email protected].
    Last edited by Noctum-damus; 2010-12-28 at 09:20 AM. Reason: News confirmed about Vashj'ir dig sites removal

  2. #2
    Herald of the Titans Vomlix's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    North of the (Berlin) Wall
    Thank you for this very helpful guide, and it's impressing how much knowledge you have collected.
    Quote Originally Posted by Trumpresident View Post
    My words exactly. Manufacturing in the US is considerably more expensive than elsewhere, and part of that are savage regulations such as environment protection or minimum wages.
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    it really is a shame this boy was introduced to the capitalist swine fable of santa but will die without knowledge of Lenin, Marx, and the glorious leaders of the Revolution

  3. #3
    ty for this thread helped a lot

  4. #4

  5. #5
    Nice guide. Has blizzard released any real numbers on epic drops. Seems to be less then 1% in my opinion. I know several people who are at 300+ artifacts and zero epics.

  6. #6
    Grunt Osbourn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Rio de Janeiro -- Brazil
    I'm working on NE and Tol'vir rare... 10 commom fragments from Tol'vir and still nothing...

    If you're a horde player, you have to get some Deepholm Potions and set your healthstone in Mulgore.

    You need to use your potions when your stone is in CD, then go to Orgrimmar portal, and Hyjal/Uldum portal.

    Good farming.

  7. #7
    the randomness on this profession is maddening

  8. #8
    I've been doing a lot of archaeology. In the last 2-3 days I have made Tyrande's Favorite Doll and Ring of the Boy Emperor. Both were good upgrades for me which was sweet! Sorry, I dont know how to link them in properly. Before that, I made 2 BOA epics of lvl 70 ish. Got the ground mount quite early, around 350 lvl ish. I have found it to be a good money maker too.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Noctum-damus View Post
    The chance of getting an epic is less than 1%, which means that you have to solve at least 100 projects to get one
    Not true, 1% chance means you will have to solve 100 projects ON AVERAGE before you get it. But not at least 100 projects, you could get it on your first project.

  10. #10
    I just hit lvl 50 and noticed no more skill ups for doing survey work, does the skill-up rate drop dramatically over lvl 50? or has something changed recently? I did about 8 surveys and picked up zero skill lvl increases after reaching 50.

    most guides say to wait until you are at skill lvl 100 before you begin solving which sounds like a good idea, but not if it is going to take me a week of picking up fragments to get to lvl 100......

    EDIT: NVM, I did some reading on a few other sites and it looks like 50 is the max you can lvl just by collecting artifacts.

    ---------- Post added 2011-03-17 at 08:37 PM ----------

    One thing you might want to add is the actual names of the Key Fragments. I had to do some digging around to find out that the actual names of them are not "Key Fragment" but rather each type has its own name:

    Troll Tablet - Troll
    Highborne Scroll - Night Elf
    Dwarf Rune Stone - Dwarf
    Orc Blood Text - Orc
    Draenei Tome - Draenei
    Nerubian Obelisk - Nerubian
    Vrykul Rune Stick - Vrykul
    Tol'vir Hieroglyphic - Tol'vir
    Last edited by klurejr; 2011-03-17 at 08:24 PM.
    "There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil."
    -John Galt

  11. #11
    there is also a nerubian digsite in eastern kingdoms. atleast one. haven't seen any others.

    EPL: 14,21

  12. #12
    awesome guide, much props!

  13. #13
    nice guide, helped a lot!

  14. #14
    Thank you for this very helpful guide!

  15. #15
    A note for ALLIANCE players farming for Zin'rokh.

    You will have realised you want to farm exclusively in Eastern Kingdoms to increase he likelihood of getting troll digsites.

    Stormwind is your hearth. If you are lvl 45ish+ (no idea exact lvl as my main does my digging and he's 85) a quest appears in Booty Bay: The Battle For Andorhal. The quest giver is a War-mage stood underneath the Ally Flightmaster. Once you pick up this quest the War-mage makes you a nice portal to Western Plaguelands, and provided you don't complete it if you speak with him again he will make it for you again, and again, and again.

    So you start in SW, dig all the sites south of you till you reach Booty Bay. Then take the portal to Western Plaguelands and start digging south. If you find theres too great a distance between your northern digsites and southern ones just Hearth back to SW. And vice-versa, if you have dug up all the southern ones and all your digsites are Arathi Highlands or further north, just portal up to WP and work south. SAVES A LOT OF TIME FLYING UP AND DOWN THE CONTINENT I CAN TELL THEE

  16. #16
    Thanks nice guide

  17. #17
    helpful,great guide,thx

  18. #18
    This is an excellent guide, but I just have one question/comment about the Red/Yellow/Green indicators and their actual distance; I was always under the impression their "Distance" meter was relative (that is, to the digsite), and not constant?

  19. #19
    Field Marshal Eiza's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    nice guide !
    im tryin to get Zin'kroh but still nothing omgh im diggin like 3 months lol ^^

  20. #20
    To infinity and beyond det's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    The forums
    Helped me a lot initially, now at 21 rares and working on 22. Still..any chance for an update with the newest rares of 4.1 and possibly the current choice of archaeology addons?

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