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Reason: The Dig Site quest received numerous improvements and changes on 20 May 2019.
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This article is about the quest. For the location, see Digsite.
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The Dig Site is the first quest in the Return of Zaros series. You must pass an archaeology exam for the Varrock Museum to be able to excavate the site where the city of Saranthium previously stood, but you discover something else...

Official description

Feeling uneducated? Desperate for buried treasure?

"There's gold in them there hills" (well stream actually), as well as many other items that can be found at the Digsite. Join the students in their attempts to be a qualified archaeologist, and become experienced in making the earth move!

Have you got what it takes to unearth the hidden altar to one of Runescape's lesser-known Gods?


Start pointQuest map icon
The Dig Site icon
Talk to an examiner in the Exam Centre, south of the Digsite.
Member requirementP2P icon Members only
Official difficultyIntermediate Intermediate
Official lengthLong
RequirementsSkill requirements are not boostable unless marked with a [B] for boostable.
Items requiredItems from the tool belt are not listed unless they do not work or are not automatically added.
Enemies to defeat
  • None

The Digsite

The Digsite is located east of Varrock, north of Al Kharid. Go to the exam centre located south of the Digsite. Talk to an examiner and ask her about taking an exam to be eligible to do work on the important areas of the Digsite. She will then give you an unstamped letter. Bring this letter to the building just northwest of the exam center, and talk to Seth Minas (site manager). After he signs it, bring the sealed letter back to the Examiner, who then gives you the Level 1 test.

No matter what you answer on the test, you will get all of them wrong. You must get answers from the other students. They are all wandering around the Digsite. Leave the building and head north towards the Digsite.

The Study Group

There are 3 students in the Digsite who can help you with the exam answers. However, they will only give you the answers if you can find a lost item of theirs.

You can obtain the 'special' items before talking to the students.


The Dig Site searching bushes

Searching the bush with the teddy

The first student is in the north-west section of the Digsite. She is a blonde woman with a purple skirt and top. If you talk to her, she says that she has lost her teddy bear, which she describes as her "lucky mascot" and asks you to find it. The teddy bear is in one of the two bushes by the large blue urns on the hill between the dig site and the exam center. If you are having trouble locating the bushes, look for small, dark spots on your minimap.

Use the teddy on her, and she will tell players one of the answers - "The proper health and safety points are: Leather gloves and boots to be worn at all times; proper tools must be used."

Animal skull

The Dig Site map

A map of the Dig Site

The second student is in the southern section of the Digsite. He has a green shirt and blonde hair. He has lost his animal skull and wants you to retrieve it. Steal-from Digsite workmen until an animal skull is received; level 25 Thieving is required to steal it. A higher level in Thieving will increase your chances of receiving it. If you happen to get a specimen brush, keep it because you will need it later.

Give the skull back to the student and he will give you another answer - "Earth Science is the study of earth, its contents and history."

Special cup


Panning for the special cup

Go to the eastern area of the Digsite. First, find the student wearing a red coloured shirt. He will tell you he has lost his special cup. Find a panning tray from inside the tent, south of the student. Then attempt to pan with it in the river just south-east of the tent. The Panning Guide will stop you and ask for a cup of tea. If there is a cup of tea in a player's inventory, he will automatically take it. After gaining permission, pan in the river until you obtain a special cup. You may also find an uncut opal, which is needed for a later part of the quest. Other items you might find when you search a full pan include uncut jade, coins, gold nuggets, oysters, and just plain mud.

Return the cup to the student and he will give you the final answer - "The people eligible to use the Digsite are: All that have passed the appropriate Earth Sciences Exams."


You must talk to each of the students before taking each new exam, otherwise the correct answers below will not even appear as an option!

Level 1

Go back to the exam centre and take the exam again, this time choosing the correct answers. If you have forgotten the information, they are as follows:

The study of Earth Science is: "The study of the earth, its contents and history."
The people eligible to use the digsite are: "All that have passed the appropriate Earth Sciences exam."
The proper health and safety points are: "Gloves and boots to be worn at all times; proper tools must be used."

If it is done right, players will receive a level 1 certificate and a trowel as a reward.

Level 2

Return to the Digsite and ask the students for level 2 answers, which are as follows:

Correct sample transportation: "Samples taken in rough form, kept only in sealed containers."
Finds handling: "Finds must be carefully handled, and gloves worn."
Correct rock pick usage: "Always handle with care; strike cleanly on its cleaving point."

Once again, talk to the Examiner for the test and after passing it, you will receive a level 2 certificate.

Level 3

Speak to the three students again and obtain the answers for level 3 certificate. However, the female student (in a pink top) will want an uncut/cut opal for her help this time. Pan in the river for one, if you did not receive it when you were looking for the special cup.

Sample preparations: "Samples cleaned, and carried only in specimen jars."
Specimen brush use: "Brush carefully and slowly using short strokes."
The proper technique for handling bones is: "Handle bones very carefully and keep them away from other samples."

Now go back to the exam centre. Answer the questions correctly and you will earn the final level 3 certificate. Players can now dig anywhere they wish; you can also show all the 3 certificates to the museum curator and choose between something to drink (fruit blast) or something to eat (chocolate cake), as a reward.

The Forgotten One

Obtain a specimen jar from the cupboard on the exam centre's south wall, or the sacks in the dig area; if you do not, you will be unable to excavate the level 3 soil. Before you leave the exam centre, make sure to talk to Terry Balando the archaeological expert. Walk to the Digsite and pickpocket workmen until you get a specimen brush.

Digging for the talisman

Digging in a level 3 dig area.

You now need to use the Trowel to dig into the soil in any level 3 digsite (players can find out what level the site is by reading the signposts). Use a trowel on the soil until you find an ancient talisman. The level 3 digsites are:

  1. The north-east end of the digsite and,
  2. The one just north of the training spot in the south-west corner of the digsite.

When you try to dig, you will be stopped by a digsite workman telling you that you need a specimen brush and a specimen jar, if you don't already have them. Search the sacks in the middle of the digsite (near the female student) for a specimen jar. When you have the jar, use your trowel on the soil to start digging; you probably won't receive the talisman on your first attempt, so keep trying. It can take a long time.

Take the talisman to Terry Balando (the archaeological expert) in the exam centre. He will be impressed by it and say that it's a talisman of the god Zaros. He will give you an invitation letter, which must be shown to workers to get permission to go down the boreholes, or private dig shafts.

Devious Minds

Items needed: 2 ropes and a vial
Digsite Dungeon map

A map of the Digsite Dungeon

Bring the extra vials for this section if you want more chemical compounds, for later use.

Go to the winch near the female blond student. Use your invitation letter on the winch operator in order to gain access to the sub-levels of the Digsite. Use a rope on the winch, and climb down into the subterranean Digsite Dungeon.

Grab an arcenia root near the west wall while you're there as you'll need it later. Walk east and search the bricks blocking the path; it is currently impossible to pass through until the bricks are cleared.

Return to the surface and head to the other winch, located to the north-east. Once again, use your rope and go down the winch. Speak to Doug Deeping and inquire on how to move a large pile of rocks.

He suggests blowing the bricks up, and also speaks of a former colleague who had discovered some chemical substances to use for that process. However, he was scared by his findings and scattered his notes all over the site. His book on chemicals can be found in the exam centre, in the south-eastern bookshelf against the wall, facing south. He also gives you a chest key. Use the 'drop trick' for multiple keys if you want to obtain more compounds for after completing the quest.


  • Go to the panning site and use Doug's key on the chest inside the nearby tent to get some chemical powder.
  • Use your trowel on the barrel on the west side of the tent to pry it open, and fill your vial from the barrel to get an unidentified liquid. You will get hit for 250~350 damage if you drop the vial!
  • Grab an arcenia root from the cave under the east winch, if you don't already have one.
  • Search the specimen tray north of the tent until you find charcoal, if you don't already have it (requires a specimen brush and specimen jar in your inventory). Once you find it, grind it to get some ground charcoal.

Then, go back to the exam centre. Show the chemical powder and the unidentified liquid to the archaeology expert to learn that they are ammonium nitrate and nitroglycerin respectively.

Watch out for left-clicking on the vial when you show the archaeology expert the "unidentified liquid", as this will "carefully empty out the liquid" and you will have to go and recollect the liquid. You can right-click the archaeology expert and select "identify liquid" to avoid running this risk. Also, if you plan on making more chemical compounds for later use, you'll need to show the archaeology expert each of the chemical powders individually in order for them to be changed into ammonium nitrate.

Mix the nitroglycerin and the ammonium nitrate. Add first the ground charcoal to the mixture, and finally the arcenia root (level 10 herblore required) to receive a chemical compound. Dropping this chemical compound will result in 650 damage!

Digsite - Temple

The Zarosian temple

After the quest you will not be able to get more ammonium nitrate since Doug Deeping will not give you another key, so be sure to get a lot of it if you want more chemical compounds. You do not need to keep getting a key from Doug, you can just keep clicking on the chest whilst it's open.

Go down the west winch again and use the chemical compound on the brick (not the rocks). Now search the bricks and use the tinderbox option to blow it up; you will automatically run away. Enter the central chamber. Pick up the stone tablet in the centre of the Zarosian sign and go back to the archaeological expert. Then, show the stone tablet to him to finish the quest.


The Dig Site reward
Music unlocked


Required for completing

Completion of The Dig Site is required for the following:



  • On the day of release, it was impossible to complete this quest since there was no way to obtain the required specimen brush. This was fixed the next day, and Jagex promised to feed the staff members responsible for the bug to the King Black Dragon.
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