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Archaeology icon Cataclysm Archaeology (Profession)
Archaeology instructions
Archaeology Artifact node

Minimap showing an archaeology 'node' after being uncovered.

“The future is inevitable! We hurl ourselves towards it like falling raindrops to the Great Sea.
But perhaps, by studying the past, we can know what to expect and be better prepared for the unknown.”

Mae Paledust, Explorers' League librarian[1]

Archaeology is a secondary profession released in the expansion, World of Warcraft: Cataclysm. Unlike other professions, it cannot be learned until level 20. Upon learning archeology, player receives the ability Inv misc shovel 01 [Survey]. There are twelve fields of research players can explore, each relating to a race in the game, such as troll, night elf, dwarf, and tol'vir. Using the surveying skill, players gather Archaeology Fragments of one type (e.g. Trade archaeology dwarf artifactfragment [Dwarf Archaeology Fragment]) from Archaeology Finds of the same type. They can then solve the current stage of this race's research and will receive an item upon doing so.

Official overview[]

Dwarven Archaeologist HS

Dwarven Archaeologist in Hearthstone.

Archaeologists search the world - and places beyond - for mysterious remnants of the past. Their digs unearth all manner of artifacts, and a persistent archaeologist will research commonplace historical items alongside rare and powerful relics.

Artifacts provide invaluable insight into the history of the world, but some collectors are more than willing to assign a monetary value to them. After documenting finds in their journal, archaeologists can sell the items they retrieve to vendors and museum curators for extra money.

Archaeology is a secondary profession - anyone can learn to investigate and assemble the ruins of the past, no matter how many other professions they've devoted themselves to.

All archaeologists begin by surveying maps of Azeroth to find the locations of promising dig sites, and then investigating those sites on foot along with survey tools in an attempt to narrow down the location of the most precious historical fragments in that area. Different locations provide different types of historical artifacts - and different rewards.

Archaeologists who hone their craft over time recover increasingly more valuable and rare items, and their knowledge about the world and past of Azeroth grows alongside their collection of relics.[2]


  • Provides players with a casual profession to enjoy in their "downtime".[3]
  • Focuses on locating, piecing together, and appraising artifacts unearthed by the Cataclysm.[3]
  • Allows you to interact with artifacts you find in a manner similar to other gathering professions. It has been specifically stated that you will be able to track both artifacts and your regular tracked objects for gathering professions (e.g. herbs or ore). Instead of tracking individual nodes, you will instead search marked regions on the world map, given by a shovel icon when viewing an entire continent or by a red enclosed region when viewing a single zone.
  • Produces completed artifacts that go into your inventory, and creates an entry in your archaeology journal describing the artifacts you completed.
  • Unlocks unique rewards such as vanity pets, mounts, and other "toys", with occasional rare and epic quality weapons or armor.[3]
  • Expands players' knowledge of the game's lore by filling in plot holes and documenting the history of the world as it was before the Cataclysm.[3] Players will reportedly be able to compile what amounts to a lore database.[4]

How archaeology works[]

As related by Ghostcrawler:[5]

Archaeological dig sites[]

Once Archaeology is trained, you can see dig sites on your continent map and your mini-map. There are always four dig sites per continent. These will not change until you dig all the fragments out of any one site.

Your dig sites appear in level-appropriate zones. Players will not be able to survey in Outland, Northrend or any of the Cataclysm zones until they have reached the minimum level to enter those zones.

Sites are race-specific. You can usually discern the race by the location and name, and some race locations are only available on some continents. You need both a minimum character level and a minimum archaeology level to use some sites.

There is no competition for dig sites; each site is player-specific.

Some dig sites in the Broken Isles will have a gold-colored icon; these are sites containing more powerful, often elite mobs. These sites have a higher chance to contain keystones and Artifact Power but are otherwise identical to other dig sites.

Finds and fragments[]

To search a dig site, use the Inv misc shovel 01 [Survey] ability. A theodolite will spawn, pointing in the approximate direction of a find; it looks like a telescope with a small flashing light on a pole next to it. The color of the light and the rate at which it flashes tell you how far you are from a find: red means you are far away, yellow means you are close, and green means you may be within 40 yards or so. The precise ranges for the different light colors vary depending on the site, with larges sites having longer ranges. When you loot your find, you'll get several fragments specific to a particular race, and may get a keystone. Each site yields only finds specific to one race. Note that unearthed archaeology finds will despawn if they aren't looted quickly enough, so be careful about surveying in combat. Also remember that if you are having some difficulty seeing your find, it will automatically show up on the minimap, just as herbs and minerals do with Inv misc flower 02 [Find Herbs] and Spell nature earthquake [Find Minerals]. Although each archaeology site can have six finds unearthed at a time, only one node is active at a time: once the first find is unearthed, the location of the second find is randomly selected, it is possible to unearth two or even six finds in a row at the exact same location. Once the third find is unearthed the dig site despawns and a new site spawns somewhere else on the continent.

There are two main strategies to surveying. The first strategy involves attempting to triangulate by moving around the outer edge of a dig site. However, due to the inaccuracy of the directional indicator (the find may be anywhere in a frontal cone of about 75 degrees) this will often prove to not provide sufficient information for locating finds. The farther away from the theodolite, the greater the area that can include the find. The second strategy involves some orienteering, heading in the general direction indicated and for approximate distance indicated and survey again from that position, to "zero in" on the artifacts, using geographical landmarks to help locate finds.

Being aware of the landscape can help locate finds as well. Consider that the fragments are not "randomly" placed. Spawn points were placed by designers who utilize their "design aesthetics" in placing them. Consider the landscape and proximity to geographic features and existing non-fragment ruins and animal bones when choosing a location to survey. This can speed up your location of fragments.

The fact that each digsite contains only a few nodes could allow gathering addons such as Gatherer or Gather Mate to aid in archaeology. Addons such as Archaeology Helper, S.A.L. and ArcheoTriangle aid in triangulation and orienteering.

As the spawn points are not random, try surveying on the spot after finding your first and second fragment. It is entirely possible for the next one to be within reach, and even to spawn in the exact same spot as the last one.


When you get a new kind of fragment, you'll start a research project. You can only work on one artifact per race at a time. When you have enough fragments, click Solve to complete that artifact. You cannot waste excess fragments: if you have leftover fragments, they will just apply to the next project. You can accordingly save up to 200 fragments of one kind and solve several projects in a row.

Most artifacts are common. These give a bit of lore or flavor text and an item you can sell for a small profit. You can estimate the value of the artifact by the number of fragments required to finish it.

Some artifacts are rare, and make a blue or purple item. Many of these are toys, or for flavor, but some are actual weapons and armor. Weapons and armor are bound to account, but will not scale like heirlooms do. Also, such artifacts can only be solved once per character.


Expansion Proficiency Skill Digsites
WoW Icon update





1 - 300

1 - 75

75 - 150

150 - 225

225 - 300



Night Elf


Bc icon Master 300 - 375



Wrath-Logo-Small Grand Master 375 - 450



Cataclysm Illustrious Master 450 - 525 Tolvir
Mists of Pandaria Zen Master 525 - 600 Mantid



Warlords of Draenor Draenor Master 600 - 700 Arakkoa

Orc Clans


Legion Legion Master 700 - 800 Demon


Highmountain Tauren

Battle for Azeroth - 800 - 950 Drust



Archaeology uses the same leveling scheme as the other secondary professions. Players begin as apprentices with zero skill points, and gain points by practicing archaeology skills.

At all levels, players receive one skill point for every successful collection of archaeology fragments, five skill points for creating a common artifact, and 15 skill points for completing a rare artifact. Previous to Patch 4.3, higher level archaeologists would get more fragements from each successful survey. However, in an undocumented change, the number of fragments per survey was increased to its current level of five to nine. As one may dig up to six times at a site, this yields potentially up to 54 fragments per site.

At all skill levels, the archaeologist may also discover a keystone. The archaeology rewards page give fuller details.

Most artifacts are Poor-quality items, worth between 1g and 200g to a vendor. Occasionally Rare-quality and Epic-quality projects come up (see archaeology rewards for more information). Most of these rare items have merely cosmetic effects, but players can also construct non-combat pets and other highly desirable items. Players also get new titles upon reconstructing enough rare-quality artifacts: Assistant Professor for the first rare reconstructed item, Associate Professor for 10 rare reconstructed artifacts, and Professor for 20 rare artifacts. (These titles correspond to tenure-track faculty ranks in North American universities.)

Archaeology levels limit what kind of artifacts players can make. Players begin by collecting fragments for dwarf, night elf, and troll artifacts, as well as natural fossils, such as shells and fossilized ferns. At higher levels, players can research artifacts from different cultures, which will take them deeper into the lore. The higher-level archaeology racial project pages (e.g. orc or tol'vir) are not available to players until they have reached the appropriate level and have collected some fragments for a given type, though players can always see the greyed-out, untitled, and unclickable icons of not-yet-accessible cultures on the "Races" page of the archaeology journal. As soon as players hit the appropriate point level and make one successful dig at a new kind of site, that section of the journal is fully opened (i.e. a player can first see the draenei section of the archaeology journal upon hitting 300 archaeology and collect the first draenei archaeology fragments).

Zones and dig sites[]

Main article: Dig site

Archaeology dig sites can be found all across Azeroth, as well as on alternate Draenor and Outland; there are no dig sites in the Shadowlands. There are four dig sites on each continent available at any one time. Dig sites are available based on player skill. However, compared to other gathering professions, there is no competition between players. Upon reaching a dig site, players will be able to collect their six finds before the dig site dries up and a new one is made available. Even if other players are searching at the site, the finds are individual to each player.

Culture Level Zones
Race-icon-dwarf Dwarf 1 Eastern Kingdoms (17/53): Twilight Highlands (3), Badlands (3), Wetlands (3), Burning Steppes (2), Searing Gorge (2), Arathi Highlands (1), Hillsbrad Foothills (1), Hinterlands (1), Loch Modan (1)
Kalimdor (1/69): Southern Barrens (1)
Race-icon-fossil Fossil 1 Eastern Kingdoms (13/53): Western Plaguelands (3), Blasted Lands (2), Burning Steppes (1), Duskwood (1), Eastern Plaguelands (1), Hillsbrad Foothills (1), Northern Stranglethorn (1), Redridge Mountains (1), Swamp of Sorrows (1), Wetlands (1)
Kalimdor (13/69): Un'Goro Crater (5), Desolace (2), Dustwallow Marsh (2), Tanaris (2), Southern Barrens (1), Stonetalon Mountains (1)
Race-icon-nightelf Night Elf 1 Kalimdor (35/69): Feralas (8), Mount Hyjal (5), Ashenvale (4), Desolace (4), Felwood (4), Winterspring (3), Azshara (2), Stonetalon Mountains (2), Darkshore (1), Silithus (1), Southern Barrens (1)
Northrend (4/29): Crystalsong Forest (2), Borean Tundra (1), Dragonblight (1)
Eastern Kingdoms (2/53): Duskwood (1), Eastern Plaguelands (1)
Race-icon-troll Troll 1 Eastern Kingdoms (19/53): Northern Stranglethorn (7), Hinterlands (5), Cape of Stranglethorn (4), Arathi Highlands (1), Eastern Plaguelands (1), Swamp of Sorrows (1)
Northrend (5/29): Zul'drak (4), Grizzly Hills (1)
Kalimdor (4/69): Tanaris (4)
Race-icon-draenei Draenei 300 Outland (15/28): Shadowmoon Valley (4), Terokkar Forest (4), Netherstorm (3), Zangarmarsh (2), Hellfire Peninsula (1), Nagrand (1)
Race-icon-orc Orc 300 Outland (13/28): Hellfire Peninsula (4), Nagrand (4), Terokkar Forest (3), Shadowmoon Valley (2)
Race-icon-nerubian Nerubian 375 Eastern Kingdoms (2/53): Eastern Plaguelands (2)
Northrend (7/29): Borean Tundra (3), Icecrown (2), Dragonblight (1), Zul'drak (1)
Race-icon-vrykul Vrykul 375 Northrend (14/29): Howling Fjord (7), Icecrown (3), Storm Peaks (3), Grizzly Hills (1)
Race-icon-tolvir Tol'vir 450 Kalimdor (16/69): Uldum (16)
Race-icon-mogu Mogu 525 Pandaria (32/84): Vale of Eternal Blossoms (9), Krasarang Wilds (6), Kun-Lai Summit (4), Valley of the Four Winds (4), Townlong Steppes (3), Dread Wastes (3), Jade Forest (2), Veiled Stair (1)
Race-icon-pandaren Pandaren 525 Pandaria (32/84): Jade Forest (14), Kun-Lai Summit (8), Valley of the Four Winds (4), Krasarang Wilds (2), Townlong Steppes (2), Vale of Eternal Blossoms (2)
Race-icon-mantid Mantid 525 Pandaria (20/84): Dread Wastes (10), Townlong Steppes (10)
Race-icon-arakkoa Arakkoa 1 Draenor (10/51): Spires of Arak (8), Shadowmoon Valley (1), Talador (1)
Race-icon-draenororcs Draenor Clans 1 Draenor(25/51): Frostfire Ridge (11), Nagrand (8), Shadowmoon Valley (5), Gorgrond (1)
Race-icon-ogre Ogre 1 Draenor (16/51): Nagrand (5), Talador (5), Gorgrond (4), Shadowmoon Valley (1), Spires of Arak (1)
Race-icon-demons Demon 1 Broken Isles: Azsuna, Stormheim
Race-icon-highborne Highborne 1 Broken Isles: Azsuna, Suramar, Val'sharah
Race-icon-highmountain Highmountain Tauren 1 Broken Isles: Highmountain
Race-icon-drust Drust 1 Kul Tiras
Race-icon-zandalari Zandalari 1 Zandalar

Race descriptions[]

Archaeology categories added in Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria have unique descriptions of the race's background and culture, viewable in the in-game Archaeology interface. New Archaeology races added in Warlords of Draenor onwards lack these descriptions; when viewed in the Archaeology interface, they instead simply display the description of whichever artifact the player is set to solve next for that race.


The draenei were originally eredar who fled from the Burning Legion and settled on the world of Draenor, where they came into contact with the orcs. When the blood elves arrived, many draenei fled again, this time coming to Azeroth, where they joined the Alliance.


The dwarves of Ironforge were originally composed of three clans: the Bronzebeards, the Wildhammers and the Dark Irons. As the result of a civil war, the Bronzebeards were left in control of the city of Ironforge while the Wildhammers eventually retreated to the Hinterlands and Twilight Highlands. The Dark Iron dwarves came to dwell in between the Redridge Mountains and the Burning Steppes, in the shadow of Blackrock Mountain.


Fossils are the preserved remains of animals or plants from the ancient past. Typically the living tissues are replaced with minerals that preserve the form of the original organism.


The mantid empire predates the arrival of the Titans. This ancient civilization of highly intelligent insectoids is ruled by the mantid Empress, and is organized by caste. Mantid society revolves around kypari trees and the amber produced from their sap.


The life-giving waters of the valley enabled a race of brutes to grow to enormous size, strength and intelligence. These creatures were called the "Mogu". Their culture was built on strength: warrior despots ruling via iron fist. Their monuments of stone, built to last, still stand to this day.


The nerubians are descended from an ancient race known as the aqir, roughly half of which migrated far to the north after continual warfare with the trolls. There they founded a gigantic city-state below Northrend, the legendary Azjol-Nerub. The arrival of the Lich King was brutally hard on the wicked nerubian race, with many of the spiderlike creatures converted to the Scourge and others driven deep into hiding.

Night Elf[]

The kaldorei are one of the most ancient races of Azeroth. One of the darkest moments in their history occurred when the quel'dorei, or Highborne - the highest caste of elven nobility - unleashed dangerous magic that brought the Burning Legion into the world and resulted in countless deaths.


The orcs of Azeroth originally inhabited the world of Draenor, the source of most of these ancient orcish artifacts. At first, orcs were largely a peaceful people, but they turned to outright barbarity under the influence of the Burning Legion. The orcs arrived in Azeroth through the Dark Portal and fought against the Alliance in two wars. Another may be on the horizon.


The Pandaren are an enigmatic race native to the long-hidden continent of Pandaria. Honorable and filled with a love of good company and food, the Pandaren have been content to live in seclusion, allowing their culture to flourish and thrive away from the influence of the outside world. While the Pandaren are predominantly a peace-loving race, their history is marked with turmoil and strife.


The tol'vir were originally stone constructs created by the titans to safeguard the secrets of Uldum. They possess feline lower bodies and heads as well as human torsos. Like many other titan creations, the tol'vir succumbed to the curse of flesh. Three tribes exist in the present day: Ramkahen, Orsis (nearly wiped out) and Neferset. The latter tribe has allied with Deathwing in order to regain the tol'vir's stone form.


The earliest known trolls belonged to the Zandalar tribe, from which all other trolls are descended. The Zandalari were regarded as an overarching priest caste for all trolls and worked tirelessly to record and preserve troll society and traditions. Of the many tribes that split off from the Zandalari, the two most dominant were the Gurubashi and Amani.


The vrykul are a race of giant warriors native to the Howling Fjord in Northrend. They have a close affinity with the sea and with native proto-drakes. Many vrykul were absorbed into the vast armies of the Lich King.

Additional fragments and useful vendor items[]

If players wish to purchase specific racial fragments (E.g. Inv crate 02 [Crate of Tol'vir Archaeology Fragments]), they can use Restored Artifacts that are acquired from crating common artifacts of Pandaria skill levels onwards. The crated artifacts are turned in at either the Seat of Knowledge in the Vale of Eternal Blossoms, or to Alliance Grakis and Horde Srikka in Ashran.

In addition to crates, the vendors also sell lodestones that can teleport yourself to digsites and digsite randomization in Level 90+ zones, and Inv icon daily mission scroll [Explorer's Notebook], an item that grants the player Garrison Missions that reward Draenor fragments (And a few give keystones).


Main article: Archaeology rewards

Archaeology was originally intended to allow advancement in Path of the Titans (feature) system and may have awarded players with Ancient Glyph slots and recipes. At present, rewards include various non-combat items, mounts and epic or rare quality Bind to Account gear. Players are able to piece together skeletal fragments to create a skeletal raptor mount, for example. In Cataclysm dungeons, players can also read ancient runes found in ruins and dungeons to give buffs to themselves and others.[3]

All of the rare artifacts are listed here:

There are also achievements awarded as a result of leveling archaeology and finding rare finds:

Note: This list is up to date as of Patch 10.1.7


Easy access[]

This simple macro puts both new skills on one button for your toolbar. Click to survey or hold a modifier key like shift and click to open your Archaeology skill book.

/cast [nomod] Survey; Archaeology

Solve count and summary[]

This macro shows how many finds players have come across. Open up the archaeology window and look at the results list before this macro will do anything useful.

/run local g,a,n,c,r=GetArtifactInfoByRace for x=1,9 do r,a,n,c=0,0,GetArchaeologyRaceInfo(x),GetNumArtifactsByRace(x)for y=1,c do a=a+select(9,g(x,y))r=r+select(3,g(x,y))end print(n..': '..c..' (rare: '..r..' solved: '..a..')')end

Example output:

Dwarf: 9 (rare: 1 solved: 8)
Draenei: 10 (rare: 2 solved: 16)
Fossil: 13 (rare: 2 solved: 13)
Night Elf: 9 (rare: 2 solved: 12)
Nerubian: 4 (rare: 0 solved: 3)

The first number is the count is the amount of unique finds players have come across for that race, whether or not that find has been solved. The next number lists the quantity of rare finds, and the solved count lists the total number of artifacts solved for that race, including duplicates. If players have not had a duplicate find for a race, the unique count will be greater than the solved count for that race.

Druid swift-shifting[]

This macro allows druids to shift out of flight form and into travel form to survey a digsite when clicked, and switch back into swift flight form when right clicked. Simply remove the word "swift" from the macro if you do not have swift flight form.

#showtooltip Survey
/run UIErrorsFrame:Hide()
/use [nostance:4] !Travel Form
/console Sound_EnableSFX 0
/cast [btn:2] Swift Flight Form; Survey
/console Sound_EnableSFX 1
/run UIErrorsFrame:Clear();UIErrorsFrame:Show()



Patch changes[]

  • Legion Patch 7.0.3 (2016-07-19):
    • A glowing shovel will now show up above the players head when close to a fragment.
    • Three additional races have been added to the UI.
    • Races are now displayed in descending order by expansion.
  • Warlords of Draenor Patch 6.2.2a (2015-09-14): Fixed an issue that caused some Archaeology dig sites to take on an odd shape and prevented them from being completed.
  • Warlords of Draenor Patch 6.0.2 (2014-10-14): Added Draenor Clan, Ogre, and Arakkoa artifacts in Draenor.
  • Mists of Pandaria Patch 5.2.0 (2013-03-05):
  • Mists of Pandaria Patch 5.0.4 (2012-08-28):
    • Number of finds per site increased to 6 from 3.
    • Added Pandaren and Mogu artifacts in Pandaria.
  • Cataclysm Patch 4.3.0 (2011-11-29): The number of fragments per survey was increased to 5-9.
  • Cataclysm Patch 4.1.0 (2011-04-26):
  • Cataclysm Patch 4.0.6 (2011-02-08):
    • Seven new Tol'Vir Dig Sites added to Uldum: Akhenet Fields Digsite, Cursed Landing Digsite, Keset Pass Digsite, Obelisk of the Stars Digsite, River Delta Digsite, Sahket Wastes Digsite, and Schnottz's Landing. Also, two new Nerubian sites added to Eastern Plaguelands: Terrorweb Tunnel Digsite and Plaguewood Digsite. Lastly, two new Nerubian sites added to Northrend: Pit of Fiends Digsite (in Icecrown) and Sands of Nasam (in Borean Tundra).
    • The sell value of all common artifacts has been doubled, while a small subset of common artifacts have had their sell value increased far beyond that.
    • Archaeology fragments now have a hard cap of 200 per race. Players will not be able to collect additional fragments until they complete artifacts to take them down below 200 fragments. Players with more than 200 fragments will not lose additional fragments in 4.0.6, but in a future patch we may remove any fragments above 200.
    • Archaeology finds now grant a guaranteed skill point up to 50 skill, and then no longer grant skill gains, as opposed to granting up to 100 skill very slowly.
  • Cataclysm Hotfix (2010-12-27): Vashj'ir dig sites no longer unlock for players. They felt too punishing without additional benefits compared to low-level sites, and were much more difficult to obtain artifacts in due to the way Vashj'ir navigation works.
  • Cataclysm Hotfix (2010-12-21): Completing rare artifacts now grant triple skill gains (15 instead of 5).
  • Cataclysm Hotfix (2010-12-20): The search radius to find an Archaeology node from the Archaeology ability Survey has been increased. This will result in fewer searches needed while in the "green" range of surveying.
  • Cataclysm Hotfix (2010-12-16): Completing Archaeology projects will once again contribute to the guild achievement Making History once the player relogs.
  • Cataclysm Hotfix (2010-12-14): Archaeology now gives 3-6 fragments per survey, up from 3 (2-4 or 3-5 at lower skill levels).
  • Cataclysm Hotfix (2010-12-13): Completing Archaeology projects no longer progresses the guild achievement Making History. This is a temporary fix until an issue with this achievement can be addressed in an upcoming patch.
  • Cataclysm Patch 4.0.3a (2010-11-23): Added.


External links[]