Archaeology is a secondary profession that was released in the latest expansion, Cataclysm. This WoW Archaeology guide will try to teach you the basics about this profession. You won’t gain any real end-game benefits from Archaeology, most of the items you can get have no in-game power like pets, toys and mounts, there are also epic and rare armors even for level 85 players, but they won’t be as good as an end-game Blacksmithing item for example. This profession is mostly for fun, you don’t need to have Archaeology it’s optional. (currently the items are really good, some are better than the first raid tier items)
However, most of the armors and weapons you can get are bind to account, which is really cool. Just imagine your alt hitting level 85 and you can equip [Zin'rokh, Destroyer of Worlds] right away(keep in mind, these are not Heirlooms, these will not scale with your character level). It’s definately a good idea to level up Archaeology with at least one character.
Once you train Archaeology, you will be able to see dig sites on your World Map, they look like little shovels. There are always 4 dig sites per continent, and it won’t change on logout, server restart or anything, you have to dig one out to actually get a new dig site.(The four continents are:Eastern Kingdoms, Kalimdor, Outland and Northrend.)
The number of zones and continents you can find dig sites depends on your Archaeology skilland your character level. A level 80 player will be able to see 16 dig sites, 4 each continent, but a level 30 player will only see 8, 4 in Kalimdor and 4 in Eastern Kingdoms and in zones which are between level 25-35.
These dig sites are player-specific, and so does the objects you dig out, you don’t have to worry about competition. Nobody can see your nodes besides you.
You will also get a new ability called [Survey]. You can only use this ability when you are inside of a dig site. The Survey tool will spawn and point in the approximate direction of a fragment, there is a light that will indicate the distance you are from a fragment.
So how does this work in action? You just go to a dig site, use your [Survey] ability and then a little tripod will spawn with red, yellow or green light. First you check which direction it points to and you just move that way, if it’s red you should mount up and run for a while and then use Survey again, when it’s yellow you shouldn’t move that much and if it’s green it’s probably within 40 yards. Just keep going to the direction the Survey tool points to, with practice you will find most of the artifacts within 3-4 Survey use.
When you discover your find, you’ll get fragments specific to a particular race, there are 10 races, it depends on the zone and your Archaeology skill which one you will find. Each dig site can be searched 3 times before it despawns and a new site spawns.
Here is a list of the races you’ll be learning about in Archaeology:
When you loot your first fragment, you will start a research project. The number of fragments required for each artifact can vary from 25 to 150. When you have enough fragments, you can click the little Solve button to complete that Artifact. If you have excess fragments, it won’t go to waste, they will start a new project. Unfortunately, you cannot control which research projects you get, it’s random but obviously it’s based on your Archaeology skill level.
So you might have to complete all of the research projects with a particular race until you get the one you wanted to in the first place. Not to mention, when you need Troll fragments for example and you get zero Troll dig sites for like an hour, it can be annoying.
Sometimes you can get [Troll Tablet], [Highborne Scroll], [Dwarf Rune Stone], etc. when you loot a fragment at a dig site. You can use these to speed up your research a little bit. There is a slot that appears on some of the artifacts that you will be able to place one of these in, not every artifact but rare artifacts will often let you use two or three at once. The keystone will increase your fragment count by 12
The best way to level Archaeology is to Survey dig sites until you reach 100 skill point, meanwhile you save all of your fragments. When you reached 75 you will gain skill-ups much slower and you stop gaining them when you reach 100, you should start solving Artifacts at 100. You will get 5 skill points for any artifact you solve, no matter which race it’s for. It takes about 25-30 hours to level up Archaeology to 525.