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The Excavator can be built at the Shipyard once your Archaeology Ministry reaches level 11. Excavators can be sent to bodies around the Expanse looking for rare artifacts. You can find glyphs and building plans, and maybe more. Sometimes you even find rare building plans.


Excavators are sent to uninhabited planets and asteroids, but not Gas Giants where they will set up an excavator site.  You can check on the relative chances via the excavator tab in the archaeology ministry.  This is also where you would abandon an excavator.

You will notice that you will have the planet your arch ministry on is listed there as well.  Archaeology Ministries work on Gas Giants fine, you'll just have fewer mineral choices.


  • Archaeology Ministry Lvl 11
  • Archeology Minisitry level effects the relative chances of finding items.



  • Excavators once setup can only be destroyed or abandoned.
  • An empire can only have 1 excavator on a body. However, there is no limit to the number of empires that may be present on a body.
  • If a planet is colonized, all excavators present are destroyed.
  • Glyph buildings left behind on abandoned planets are considered artifacts. These artifacts can be extracted by an excavator though the glyph building as a result of this will either lose levels or be destroyed.  The returned plan will usually be less than the level of the building to begin with.  Also excavators on artifact plans run greater risks of being destroyed.
  • A ministry can control up to Level - 10 excavators.  (So a level 30 Archaeology Ministry could have 20 excavators attached to it.).
  • Glyphs returned are based on ore content of the excavated body.
  • Detonators will wipe out all excavators on targetted bodies.
  • Defenses will shoot down excavators.  (and detonators aimed at bodies)
  • Excavators can only be sent to Asteroids or unihabited habitables
  • Excavators can not be sent to Gas Giants, or inhabited planets
  • Excavators can be restricted to alliance members only by a Parliament level 20 in systems controled by a Space Station

The following Rates of return are only an estimate not an exact figure.

X will need to be determined by interested players, though the rates on the basic returns are given by the archaeology ministry itself.

  • X% Will return nothing
  • X% Small amount of some rescource based on level of Arch Ministry.
  • X% Random Glyph
  • X% Random Glyph building plan of level 1 to level 1 + X.
  • X% Artifact if there is a glyph structure on the excavated body.
  • X% Destruction  Always a chance, but on Artifact bodies the chance is increased.

Playing Tip:

  • Excavators are key to the growth and expansion of many top empires.  The ability to build halls from glyphs is very important.
  • Eventually, you'll have plenty of plans and will ignore the resource amounts.
  • If you find yourself being overwhelmed with messages regarding excavator finds you can turn off various excavator discoveries.  One common strategy is to disable all notices except for excavator destruction.  That way you know when an excavator needs to be replaced.
  • When deploying excavators to asteroids watch for asteroids with less that 10k of ore.  Less ore produced means less chances of finding a glyph.  Rainbow roids while tempting for excavators only produce about 7k ore.

Scripts: Expect some to be written, but as of yet none are known of.  One idea for a script that has come up repeatedly is one that could replace excavators as they die.

Scripting Note: Those who are using the script glyphinator should plan on discontinuing its use before the launch of the new system for dealing with excavators.  The script is not compatible with the new excavator errors and will crash whenever dealing with inhabitted planets, and possibly Gas Giants.  The dig features though of the script do still work.  A modified version of the script called digmanager has been posted to the forums.

Keywords: Archaeology Ministry 11 Ships

0Jazzeroki: "No distance no longer factors into the return rate.  The chances of getting a glyph though does increase with larger amounts of ore on the body. Some asteroids due to the lower total concentrations of ore will have lower chances of returning a glyph than habitables will."
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