*This is a work in progress*
Archaeology is the new secondary profession released with Cataclysm.
It is trainable in Stormwind from Harrison Jones, who holds class in the Stormwind Keep Library.
When you train it, you gain two things - the Survey skill, and the Archaeology profession.
Put Survey on your hotbar, cause you'll be using it a lot when Archaeologizing. (I call it Jonesing - for now.)
Now how do you Survey?
Hit M or open your World Map. Zoom out (right click). On the continent map now you should see four new icons that look like shovels. These are your dig sites.
Fly to those areas and when you get into the zone itself, you'll see a green/gray blob that indicates where you're supposed to Survey.
Land within those borders and hit your Survey key. A little graphic of a surveying telescope will pop up for a few seconds.
The fat/wide end of the telescope points in the direction you need to look again.
If the light on the indicator is red - you're far away.
If it's yellow - you're closer.
If it's blinking green - you're almost on top of it. Move forward a few steps and survey again - you just might find the artifact.
You can survey 3 times per dig site.
When you find artifacts, they get added to your Archaeology profession window on a per-race basis.
Races to find artifacts include:
Dwarf, Night Elf, Troll, Fossil (Dead things Mikey, dead things!), Draenei, Tol'vir, Nerubian, and a bunch more I don't remember at the moment.
Basically though, at low levels you'll be finding a WHOLE LOT of Dwarf, Night Elf, Troll, and Fossil artifacts across Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms.
At first, you'll get 2 "fragments" of an artifact when you survey, then at skill 75 you start getting 3 fragments per survey.
Artifacts can be solved in the Profession Window when you have the requisite number of fragments. The requirements vary; you'll start out needing 27 or so and currently at 195 skill I need between 30 and 35 fragments to solve.
**NOTE** DO NOT "SOLVE" ANY ARTIFACTS UNTIL YOU HIT 100 SKILL FROM SURVEYING The reason for this is that you get 5 skill points for solving an artifact - however surveying anything grays out at 100 skill.
And new as of 12/20 - you get 15!!! skill points for solving a rare artifact!
Also while surveying you will get green/uncommon items called Keystones, which can take the place of a small amount of missing fragments (Usually 12). These are useful for solving those rare artifacts. To use them, when you are looking at the "solve" window for the artifact, you can either click the "keystone" hole in the bottom left of the window, right-click the keystone itself in your bags, or click-and-drag it into place.
Note: There are no Fossil keystones.
The next item to become available to complete after Solving is rather random. My first few items were troll and dwarf dinnerware (which is where I figured out the previous bolded note). My third Fossil artifact was the rare BoP pet "Fossilized Hatchling", for example - but I haven't gotten anything else from the other three other than common artifacts.
Skill-wise, you can't survey in Outlands until you're 300 skill, and you can't survey in Northrend until 375. Cataclysm areas are higher than 450, as I have not yet gotten the ability to survey there at 470 skill.
You get experience for finding an artifact - NOTE however that it consumes REST EXPERIENCE.
At 80 I was getting 5500 per artifact - doubled to 11k with rest. However, the exp gain notice does NOT mention that.
At 81 I'm getting 6950 per.
At 84 I was getting ~14k per - I calculated it to be about .15% of the level's exp.
Here is a list of percentages of finding a specific race's digsite from a post on MMO-Champ:
There is only 1 Dwarf site in Kalimdor compared to 18 (post-450) or 14 (pre-450). No contest on this one, but here are the percents anyway.
Eastern Kingdoms (pre-450): 28.57%
Eastern Kingdoms (post-450): 32.14%
Kalimdor (pre-450): 2.33%
Kalimdor (post-450): 1.79%
Verdict: Eastern Kingdoms (All skill levels)
Fossils are probably the complicated of all of the because the verdict does change mathematically after 450 skill. However, there is an issue beyond mathematics to consider. Eastern Kingdoms has nodes in Vashj'ir, which is way, way out there and takes a long time to reach. Therefore, in cases like this where the difference is a couple percent of getting a digsite versus the massive hassle of potential Vashj'ir spawns, I'll leave it up for the reader to decide.
Eastern Kingdoms (pre-450): 26.53%
Eastern Kingdoms (post-450): 23.21%
Kalimdor (pre-450): 27.91%
Kalimdor (post-450): 21.43%
Verdict: Kalimdor (pre-450) and Reader's choice (post-450)
There are only 5 Night Elf dig sites in Eastern Kingdoms, and three of them are in Vashj'ir, which is horrible to access, so...
Eastern Kingdoms (pre-450): 4.08%
Eastern Kingdoms (post-450): 8.93%
Kalimdor (pre-450): 58.14%
Kalimdor (post-450): 53.57%
Verdict: Kalimdor (All skill levels)
Troll relics are also in Northrend, so here's a three-way comparison.
Eastern Kingdoms (pre-450): 40.82%
Eastern Kingdoms (post-450): 35.71%
Kalimdor (pre-450): 11.63%
Kalimdor (post-450): 8.93%
Verdict: Eastern Kingdoms (all skill levels)
This one is easy because there is only one location, but I'll list it anyway for completion sake and just for fun.
Again, only one possible area for these. The number is very surprisingly low. Luckily, not much to be desired from the Nerubians.
Same as the above.
Still only one possible area for these, but the percentage is depressingly low, especially for such a desired faction.
Kalimdor (post-450): 14.29%
Verdict: Kalimdor (post-450)
And just for kicks, in their most populated areas, Tol'vir and Nerubian are the two rarest races to get things from. Luckily, there are only two Nerubian artifacts of any value, so you won't have worry about them very often.
Last edited by Mike on Thu Dec 23, 2010 7:25 am, edited 2 times in total.