he League of Explorers have recently discovered what looks like a human crypt in the Badlands and Lorewalker Hiyorin, who works for the League, kindly allowed me to go with her to the excavation. During the time we stayed there, multiple questions and theories came up to our minds, but it is important to note that they are mostly theories as the excavation is recent and items need to be catalogued and sorted before any conclusions can be drawn.

The Crypt and the questions

The various huge vases positioned around the crypt, some being held by corpses, and the decoration of these pieces is one of the most intriguing questions. What did they contain? Why have we not seen any other vessel with that decoration in other crypts? How did a group of humans travel this far south so early in history? And questions do not stop there. There was a throne with a skeleton too, and four other skeletons positioned around it, all holding vases. One cannot avoid thinking some sort of ritual might play into this scenery, maybe a group suicide. More skeletons could be found around the crypt, as in defensive positions and also at the entrance, maybe someone tried to stop them? Every detail, from the weapons to the armours and the decoration around gives us hints, and after this experience we decided to learn more about how archaeologist work, and about discovering ancient places and artifacts.

The expert

With this goal in mind, we interviewed Professor Oilchains, who has been working for ten years as an archaeologist and specialised in the study of Ancient Texts and Scrolls. Gaedryel Ravenbreath: How does the job start, how do you find ancient places usually? I guess some may be mere luck as others are digging and find it, but are there other ways to find them? Professor Oilchains: Findin' a dig site is usually by luck. Even though we can also pinpoint locations through the known history of certain lands and cultures. If ye take something as wide as the Troll Empire; they have been all around Azeroth. Some we can find due to knowledge of large settlements that have still been kept secured by time. Such as Zul'gurub. But some other, smaller settlements can be stumbled upon as well, where one would never think to find one. 's always a joy when we here that somethin' new has been found. Gaedryel Ravenbreath: Of course, and once found, I guess the next step is to dig all out and catalogue it. How does this work and who does it? Do you have students helping around or more not so formed people helping or that's already a delicate stage? Professor Oilchains: After the documentation of the dig site and given the green light from the Lead of the excavation, we proceed with digging further and retrievin' the item. When we say diggin', it is usually not done in a day. It can take manners of weeks. Months are also possible fo' a time duration of diggin' ou' said item. The bigger it is, the mo' hands we sometimes ask. Students and new, young talents are asked to also come to experience fieldwork. They start usually by observation, then do small tasks. And after some time, given the signal, they may assist at the recovery of an artifact. 's very delicate, as ye put it. Ye gotta make sure ye do not break anythin'. But also not leave yer own prints on it, or get the wrong material on it. Diggin', cleanin', further examination, final examination and then it is decided what will be done with it. My Federation, fo' example, are known fo' their trademark work; Recovery, Repair, Return. If we find a Kal'dorei item. Then we recover it and send it to our team that is qualified in evaluatin' Kal'dorei artifacts. These also consists ou' of various races, as we are a neutral organisation, but the final say of Return is determined by our Kal'dorei archaeologists. Gaedryel Ravenbreath: And they decide what to do later? Like if donated to a exposition, give it back to another... I don't know, temple or similar place? Professor Oilchains: Exactly! Ye see, sometimes ye come across an item that is not jus' a beautiful piece of history. Some items are filled with magic or carry a legacy with 'em. If we uncover such an item, we have to sit around a table and decide what to do with it. As I mentioned; we have a team fo' each race known to Azeroth here. They will say the final word if it will be returned to their culture or not. When it is usually declared to not return, means that the item has been deemed - too dangerous-. Think of powerful items that, in the wrong hands, could mean devastatin' disasters fo' everyone. Gaedryel Ravenbreath: There's one last thing I'd like to ask you, what's the best thing about this job? Professor Oilchains: I am glad ye think so! The best thing fo' me, is that I get to discover a world that is beyond my own. I do not mean travelin', per se. It is how ye are introduced to a race or a culture that is not yer own. And ye can experience a fraction of what it was in the past, and how it could be now.

The recovery process

During this interview Professor Oilchains mentioned how they work along the Kirin Tor sometimes and the thought of dangerous artefacts led to interviewing Cirius, who works for Reliquis, an organization that acquires dangerous artefacts and store them away from those who might use them to ill intent. This line of work is a bit different from archaeology but in the current times and due to the number of powerful artefacts hidden in Azeroth it’s an important work, nonetheless. Of course, the first question is, how does one find these ancient and dangerous artefacts? Cirius: “Usually, our work begins from something else, as it is not limited to just finding lost items, but literally fighting evil as to say. Simply put, we're led by a kind of coincidence at times. We take contracts for various work, and on our trips around Azeroth we reach out for stories, writings or other things of interest that might be of use. For example, a recent expedition to an ancient Drakkari troll vault was sparked by a handful of treasure maps we had procured years ago from a merchant in Grizzly Hills. Other times it's our 'enemies' that lead us to the objects they themselves desire. Magic is of great importance to many a ritual, and the most effective ways to focus it are usually items of great power.” Gaedryel Ravenbreath: And how hard can it be to put the pieces together? Do you have any map, treasure, or riddle still unsolved? Cirius: We've some cold cases and enigmas, aye. Though if we're being honest, it's usually the people rather than the items that end up missing. We still have some maps as well - waiting for a better time of use since we're currently going through... problems. Expeditions can be expensive and dangerous, though the rewards can also be worthwhile. Treasure hunting is our secondary motive at times since we need a plentiful of gold to fuel our operations. Whilst our benevolent Lady Belletere is rich, it's not fair nor reasonable to expect her to fund every parts of our cause. Particularly faraway lands like Kalimdor and Northrend are things that require long preparation. Gaedryel Ravenbreath: How does the retrieving process work? I assume if you're getting it from those using it for bad things it can get... violent, but what about when it's in a forgotten place? What are the dangers there and how do you work in that case? Cirius: It gets violent often - that is inevitable with the kind of people we have to deal with. As for the abandoned places - traps and guardians are a very obvious and real threat. The best precaution for these kind of things is time. Acquiring propre intel on what's ahead and keeping track of potential threats is of great importance. Though at times time is a luxury we simply cannot afford. Ideally you never want to walk into unknown buildings headlong. We always want to test for magical and physical traps whenever possible. Otherwise, formation is important - to keep something in both front and back that can survive the brunt of unwelcome surprises. Gaedryel Ravenbreath: You say time is a luxury you can't afford due to the risk of others getting the object before or...? Cirius: Usually yes. Since acquiring things is only one half of the coin and the other tends to be just what you described. Oh, and to add to previous, lighting is a rather obvious but important part. It really helps you detect threats in time, though it can sometimes also attract them. Given the magical nature of our order, we're never quite in short supply of artificial lighting. Time can at times be related to the complexes themselves however. I've been to places where the infrastructure threatens to crumble at the slightest interference, and cave-ins are all but inevitable. Gaedryel Ravenbreath: Of course, makes sense, do you also have any sort of team that searched the place for hints of other similar places or that's not common to be the case? Cirius: We try to acquire as much intel from the places we venture in as possible. We don't have any specialized teams however, just one with a great variety of people. As magic is a common use for traps and mechanisms, I tend to end up being the first in identifying a lot of unknown objects. But other situations might call for different methods and skills. Gaedryel Ravenbreath: What type of objects do you identify? You separate those with real value either in magic or in gold from those with a more historical value or those are also valuable and taken for other scholars? Cirius: Regrettably, our work doesn't involve cataloguing things of historical value, although on hindsight perhaps we could have use for such a person. Anything that seems in any way off goes through routine magic inspection, and even otherwise normal things we want to take with us I am to check in case for curses or other oddities. By objects I also refer obstructions within the places. Walls of roaring magical fire, or otherwise magical feeling sites. Gaedryel Ravenbreath: Once the item has been retrieved, what can you tell about transporting it in a safe way and keeping it in a safe place? Cirius: Transportation hasn't been of great problem so far, of which I'm thankful. Usually, the items we retrieve aren't big enough as to not be able to carry on person. We did uncover a handsomely sized cache of silver from one of our expeditions, which we delivered on horse-carried sacks. As for storing the things... well, I can't say all too much about it. We have a dedicated and secure vault hidden away from the world, which only a few people know how to access. Gaedryel Ravenbreath: Of course, I understand you can't say much about it. To finish, what's the worst and best part of the job? Cirius: Best part of the job, I would say is the meaningful purpose of making Azeroth a little safer place for the common folk. It also quite satisfies the use of my talents in a way that I can feel somewhat in control of - I couldn't imagine myself fighting on actual battlefields. As for the worst parts... It is perhaps obvious. Going through enduring and dangerous situations repeatedly with the same group of people will quickly see you getting very attached to them. And yet, the ever-present danger looms with the chance to snatch those around you away at a moment's notice. Exhaustion is a big problem as well. There's always something more to do. Something that could save a life somewhere, some day. It's hard to give oneself a pause after a while. Danger and loss are inevitable in this line of work. One needs to grow to accept it.