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How to Raise Your Archaeology Skill: Getting Started
Before you can start following this WoW archaeology guide, be sure that you have learned archaeology from a trainer. You can find these one of these trainers in any capital city in the world, as well as in a few other locations throughout the world. Note that you must be at least level twenty to learn the skill. Once you have learned the skill from a trainer, it is time to get started! Unlike mining, skinning, and fishing, archaeology does not require you to buy or carry any special items. Also unlike most other secondary professions, archaeology offers a slew of unique vanity items and pets to discover!
Your first step is to find a suitable dig site. In order to do this, look at your world map and zoom out to the continent level by right-clicking once. When you are zoomed out, dig sites will appear as small shovel icons on the map. No matter what you do, each continent will always have exactly four dig sites available. When you finish one, another one will instantly take its place somewhere else on the same continent. Note that until your archaeology is at a higher level, you will only be able to see dig sites in Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor.
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The Joy of Archaeology: Finding and Traveling to a Dig Site
Now that you have trained your skill and have found an appropriate dig site, you are set to experience the first joy of archaeology in World of Warcraft: travel! In fact, while you are levelling this profession, the vast majority of your time will be spent flying (or walking) from one place to another. Travel to the dig site you picked out from your map earlier in whatever way you can. I hope you have a good book handy!
Once you have arrived, open your map again. This time you do not have to zone out: the dig site will appear as a red blob in your zone map. Once you are standing inside of this red blob, open your professions pane (by default the “k" button) and click “Survey." You may wish to temporarily add the survey button to your main spell bar, because you will be doing a lot of it.
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After you have surveyed, a survey tool will appear next to your character. This tool will tell you two things:
1) The tool will point in the general direction of the archaeology fragment you are hunting.
2) The tool will have a blinking light next to it. A green light means the fragment is very close, a yellow one means it is further away, and a red one means you are very very far away.
Follow the direction indicated by your tool and try surveying again. Repeat this process until, instead of a survey tool spawning near your character, a sparkling archaeology container spawns nearby. When this container appears, right click it. Now repeat this process two more times, as each dig site contains three hidden containers. Once you have looted all three containers, it is time to...you guessed it, fly (or walk) to another dig site!
Check out page two of this guide for the conclusion, including information on how to level the profession, how to unlock different dig locations, and more!
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The Rest of Your Weekend and You: Leveling Archaeology to Max Skill.
There are two ways to raise your archaeology skill level:
1) From skill 1-50 only, you gain one skill point for every archaeology container you loot.
2) The other (and from 51 skill or higher on the only) way is to solve artifacts.
Ideally, you should save every archaeology fragment you find between 1 and 50 skill. Once you hit 50 skill, you can now use all those fragments to solve artifacts! This way, you essentially gain double the skill benefit for the same dig sites. First you level by gaining fragments, then later you level by using the same fragments. It's win-win!
Every time you right click an archaeology container in the game, you loot a semirandom number of archaeology fragments. In order to solve an artifact, you must first gain enough fragments. Then go to your professions pane (still by pressing “k" by default!) and click “archaeology." Select the race whose artifact you wish to solve for, and then click “solve." Most likely, you are now the proud owner of 5 new skill points, and 1 new piece of vendor trash ! Hooray! Keep doing this until you reach maximum skill, and then you may experience the second joy of archaeology: doing it some more until you find those epic items you wanted. Most, if not all, of the epic rewards require at least 450 archaeology skill before you even have a chance at discovering them!
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Outland and Beyond
When you reach 300 skill, you will be able to find archaeology dig sites in Outland. When you reach 375 skill, you will be able to dig in Northrend. Note, however, that you are not required to go to either place. All archaeology artifacts are created equal, and will universally either give 5 skill points (for a common artifact) or 15 (for a rare find) regardless of where you found the fragments.
While levelling your archaeology with this WoW archaeology guide, be sure to visit your trainer again at regular intervals -- even though you can go from 1 to 525 skill by solving exactly the same stuff over and over, your character will need periodic pep talks in order to get past those important skill point hurdles like 75, 150, 225, 300, 375, and 450.