Archeologists are one of the harder roles, but can become powerful in the late game. They are often called Arcs for short. According to the guidebook:

Archeologists understand dungeons pretty well; this
enables them to move quickly and sneak up on the local nasties.
They start equipped with the tools for a proper scientific expedition.

Archeologists can be lawful (human or dwarf) or neutral (human or gnome).

Starting equipmentEdit


Archeologists gain the following abilities upon reaching the specified experience level:



Main articles: Hit points and energy

You start with a base 11 HP, with a racial bonus: +2 for humans, +4 for dwarves, +1 for gnomes.

You start with a base power of 1, with a racial bonus: +2 for gnomes, +1 for humans.


Main article: Archeologist quest

The archeologist quest artifact is The Orb of Detection, a crystal ball. When carried, it confers magic resistance, telepathy and half damage when attacked by spells. When #invoked, it toggles invisibility on/off.


Main article: Religion
  • Lawful: Quetzalcoatl
  • Neutral: Camaxtli
  • Chaotic: Huhetotl

Rank titlesEdit

The status line shows you to be one of the following ranks when you reach the specified experience level:

  • XL 1-2: Digger
  • XL 3-5: Field Worker
  • XL 6-9: Investigator
  • XL 10-13: Exhumer
  • XL 14-17: Excavator
  • XL 18-21: Spelunker
  • XL 22-25: Speleologist
  • XL 26-29: Collector
  • XL 30: Curator


The archeologist's attire is heavily influenced by the Indiana Jones movies - you start with a leather jacket, fedora and bullwhip.


Early Archeologists are neither berserkers nor powerful spellcasters, but can - and must - become proficient tool-users. The early game must be played cautiously, akin to the Tourist and Healer.

Of all the things that can kill an early Archeologist, starvation should never be one of them. You begin the game with a large stack of food rations and a fully charged Tinning Kit. A good strategy is to tin the corpses of the larger low level monsters encountered in the first few floors of the dungeons and mines.

Your starting touchstone will instantly identify a gem even when uncursed, which can make the first few floors of the mines very profitable. Between the ability to identify gems and the ability to use your pick-axe to dig up vaults, you can accumulate a lot of wealth in just the first few floors of the dungeon and mines. You can aim to purchase protection as soon as you reach minetown, even without having to play a dangerous protection racket strategy. Archeologists should always go through the mines after XL 4 or so, before continuing on to Sokoban. They are well equipped to do so from the very beginning, and can even brave the mines as very low level if they have a well trained pet. Luck is very important early in the game, so save at least one cheap gem to throw to a co-aligned unicorn. Throwing an identified precious gem gives a very large boost to luck, so you might consider doing it even before you find a luckstone.

Archeologists should try to have poison resistance before even thinking of doing the quest because the quest is full of poisonous snakes.

Weapon selection and skillsEdit

Archeologist skills
Max Skills

The best early weapons are the pick-axe and your starting whip (purely for the +2 bonus; whips are ordinarily quite poor). The whip can be applied towards a monster, which will disarm the monster if your dexterity is 6 or higher. This can be a lifesaver when fighting some monsters, given your poor starting AC. Dwarvish mattocks are two handed pick-axes that do more damage than any other non-artifact weapon.

A good artifact weapon for you is Grayswandir, which does double-damage and silver damage. A normal silver saber is an excellent weapon - the watch captain in Minetown often carries one, so consider getting a pet to kill him for it. If you disarm him with your whip, that will help your pet, and will anger him but not anger other guards.

Archaeologists have several decent options for melee weapons available in the early game, but the lack of a good ranged weapon will really hurt in the beginning. Boomerangs can be advanced to expert, but your chances of finding one without polypiling aren't very good. Slings can be advanced to skilled, but they are weak and rocks are very heavy. Darts and daggers are your other two plentiful options in the early game, both of which can be advanced to basic. Of these, daggers are probably the better option because you will never lose them. However if you find a large stack of darts with +2 or better enchantment, you might consider using those instead.

So you will definitely want to give a skill slot to daggers (or possibly darts). Advancing pick-axe to expert is probably also a good idea, as a dwarvish mattock may be your primary weapon until you get an artifact. That artifact will hopefully be Grayswandir, so advance saber if you find one. That uses 12 skill slots so far, which you will have available at XL 13 - before you do the quest.

Later on you may want expert (or skilled if you can get away with decent spell failure rates) divination for casting magic mapping (which is the Archeologist's special spell) and identify, and basic in two weapon combat for supplementing your artifact sword with a silver saber. That uses 19 skill slots, for which you must be XL 20.

Boomerangs are a very powerful ranged weapon. They are probably the most powerful ranged weapon available to Archaeologists in the game. Unfortunately they are also very rare. If you find one or two early on, it's probably worth advancing your skill to basic. Very late in the game (XL 20 or over) you might consider polypiling for them. A stack of +7 boomerangs can do a lot of damage if advanced to expert level. However, it's probably not worth advancing your skill in boomerangs past basic if you only have 1 or 2 of them--thus this is only a viable strategy late in the game.

Actions Specific to an ArcheologistEdit

The following actions abuse your alignment record:

  • digging up graves, if you are lawful. You get the additional "You feel like a despicable grave robber." message in all cases, but you don't abuse your alignment if you're neutral, for example.
  • breaking historically significant statues, like the ones on the Oracle level.

Ascension kitEdit

Main article: Ascension kit

You should not rely on The Orb of Detection as a source of magic resistance; the Wizard of Yendor and other covetous monsters can easily steal it. Assuming you do not wish for another quest artifact, that essentially requires you to wear either gray dragon scale mail or a cloak of magic resistance.

Encyclopedia entry Edit

Archeology is the search for fact, not truth. [...]
So forget any ideas you've got about lost cities, exotic travel,
and digging up the world. We do not follow maps to buried
treasure, and X never, ever, marks the spot.

[ Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade ]
This page is based on a spoiler by Dylan O'Donnell. The original license is:

Redistribution, copying, and editing of these spoilers, with or without modification, are permitted provided that the following conditions are met:

  1. The original contributors to any spoiler must continue to be credited.
  2. Any modifications to the spoiler must be acknowledged and credited.

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.