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 [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. [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.
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.
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. Players may reach 600 skill points in archaeology.
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. Each worth 12 fragments when combined with selected artifact construction, or can be saved up for a daily quest available in Level 85 instances. 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).