Archaeology in Minecraft 1.20 – Everything You Need to Know

Time to get digging and uncover the ancient world with archaeology in Minecraft!

Dylan Crosbie
Dylan Crosbie
9 Min Read

Rumors of Archaeology in Minecraft have been around since the Caves and Cliffs update back in 2021. However, due to unforeseen delays, we finally see Minecraft Archaeology in the 1.20 Trails and Tales update!

We’ve crafted this guide to ensure you’re ready to start digging and uncovering the secrets of the past when the update releases on the 7th of June, 2023. Without further delay, throw on your Indiana Jones hats, and let’s dive in.

A Minecraft Archaeology Guide

New decorated pots in front of dyed terracotta in Minecraft 1.20
Minecraft 1.20 introduces archaeology into the game along with the brush and decorated pots.

When starting your Archaeology adventure in Minecraft, you’ll first want to craft a brush. This new item added in the 1.20 update is crafted with a stick, copper, and a feather. Once you’re equipped, you’ll want to head over to one of the ancient structures in the game. The aim is to look for suspicious sand and gravel. This new block contains unique artifacts that range from sticks all the way to emeralds. If you’re lucky, you’ll even come across a pottery shard.

These ancient structures include desert pyramids, desert wells, ocean ruins, and the new structure called trail ruins.

Archaeology Gameplay in Minecraft

Archaeology in Minecraft aims to uncover ancient relics such as pottery shards and even the Sniffer egg. To do so, first, find some suspicious sand or gravel and uncover the secrets by using the brush. We’ll talk about the new blocks and world generation soon, but let’s cover the gameplay first.

There are five different locations where players can find suspicious sand and gravel, these are:

  • Desert Pyramids
  • Desert Wells
  • Warm Ocean Ruins
  • Cold Ocean Ruins
  • Trail Ruins

Suspicious Sand Locations

Some of the above locations only have suspicious sand, while others have gravel. Here are the different structures that have suspicious sand and what you can expect to see within them:

  • Desert Pyramids – Pottery Shard, TNT, Gunpowder, Emerald, Diamond
  • Desert Wells – Pottery Shard, Brick, Emerald, Stick, Suspicious Stew
  • Warm Ocean Ruins – Pottery Shard, Sniffer Egg, Iron Axe, Emerald, Wheat, Wooden Hoe, Coal, Gold Nugget
  • Trail Ruins – Pottery Shard, Emerald, Wheat, Clay, Brick, Dyes, Dyed Candle, Stained Glass Pane, Hanging Sign, Gold Nugget, Coal, Wheat Seeds, Beetroot Seeds, Dead Bush, Flower Pot, String, Lead, Armour Trim

Suspicious Gravel Locations

There are two other structures where you’ll find suspicious gravel:

  • Cold Ocean Ruins – Pottery Shard, Iron Axe, Emerald, Wheat, Wooden Hoe, Coal, Gold Nugget
  • Trail Ruins – Pottery Shard, Emerald, Wheat, Clay, Brick, Dyes, Dyed Candle, Stained Glass Pane, Hanging Sign, Gold Nugget, Coal, Wheat Seeds, Beetroot Seeds, Dead Bush, Flower Pot, String, Lead, Armour Trim

Archaeology Advancements in Minecraft

A GIF showing a player using the brush to find a pottery shard.
Players can use a brush to find a pottery shard and obtain the ‘Respecting the Remnants” advancement.

Suppose you’re a player who likes the challenge of the advancement structure in Minecraft. In that case, there are two new Minecraft Archaeology advancements. These are:

  • Respecting the Remnants
  • Smells Interesting

When you brush a suspicious sand or gravel block and obtain a pottery shard, you’ll gain the ‘Respecting the Remnants’ advancement. Alternatively, if you find a Sniffer Egg in a Warm Ocean Ruin and add it to your inventory, you’ll gain the ‘Smells Interesting’ advancement.

The ‘Smells Interesting’ advancement is a hidden advancement and can only be viewed by the player after completing it. Other hidden advancements include ‘Voluntary Exile’ and ‘Hero of the Village,’ which are related to Village Raids.

New World Generation for Minecraft Archaeology

A minecraft player flying in front of a trail ruin in Minecraft 1.20
Trail Ruins are found underground and need to be excavated to expose the structure.

We’ve mentioned trail ruins above, but what are they exactly? Trail Ruins are part of the new world generation directly related to Minecraft Archaeology. According to Mojang, these are ancient buried structures from a lost culture. Of course, this opens many Minecraft lore questions, which is exciting. After all, this update is all about creating your own tales and stories.

These structures can be found in taigas, snowy taigas, old-growth taigas, birch forests, and jungles. Perhaps they’re ancient villages or belonged to the same civilization that built the Desert Temples.

The structure consists of a tower, a path that leads to the tower, and a few additional buildings that branch from the path. It’s an interesting structure, and tons of YouTubers have already imagined what it looked like before it deteriorated.

Most importantly, it’s an excellent place for loot. As mentioned, players can find tons of items in suspicious sand and gravel at these structures. More importantly, two essential types of loot are found here: armor trims and several different pottery shards. Other functional blocks are mud bricks, dyed terracotta, and glazed terracotta.

Pottery Shards

Pottery shards are new archaeology items in Minecraft 1.20 that can be collected and crafted into decorated pots. While these pots can’t be used to store anything, they’re great for fleshing out your world and telling a story through patterns.

Each shard contains a symbolic image that, when put together, creates one of the 20 different variants of decorated pots.

It’s important to note that shards can’t be crafted and can only be found in suspicious sand and gravel.

The Minecraft crafting bench UI showing four pottery shards in a rhombus shape which makes a decorated pot
The crafting recipe for a decorated pot is four pottery shards.

New Minecraft Archaeology Blocks

Four new block types relate to Archaeology in Minecraft 1.20. We’ve already spoken about two of them – suspicious sand and gravel. However, we haven’t fully covered decorated pots nor discussed the Sniffer Egg.

Decorated Pot

20 decorated pots in Minecraft 1.20 in front of a white terracotta wall with mud bricks as the floor
There are 20 different patterns which can be mixed and matched on decorated pots.

As mentioned above in this Archaeology Minecraft guide, these blocks are purely for decoration. They can be stacked on each other or placed as single blocks around your Minecraft world. However, at the date of writing, players can’t store any items within them.

To craft a decorated pot with symbols on it, use 4 pottery shards. The imagery on the pot is decided by the type of shard you use to craft it. Alternatively, to craft a smooth decorated pot, use clay bricks instead.

Decorated pots are easy to break and have two different breaking interactions. First, breaking it with a tool (such as a pickaxe) will break into its original crafting materials. This way, you can collect the different pottery shards and combine them in a different pattern.

Alternatively, you can break the pot using your hands, which will cause the pot to drop itself as a block rather than its materials.

Sniffer Egg

A GIF showing a player using the brush tool to uncover a sniffer egg
Sniffer eggs can be found by brushing suspicious sand at warm ocean ruins.

If you don’t know what a Sniffer is, you’ve probably missed one of the most significant Minecraft 1.20 announcements. This mob is the winner of the 2022 mob vote and will be coming to the Minecraft Trails and Tales update. It’s an ancient mob that sniffs and digs up ancient seeds. The only problem is that it’s extinct!

That is until you find the Sniffer Egg by brushing suspicious sand at Warm Ocean Ruins. Place the egg and look after it; soon, a baby Sniffer will hatch. Once it’s grown, it can sniff out Torchflower seeds.

Once you’ve found two Sniffer Eggs and hatched them, you can then breed the Sniffers using Torchflower seeds and bring the extinct mob back to the Overworld!

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Dylan is an avid Open World and Strategy game fan. His favorite content to cover include Minecraft and The Sims. His gaming interests along with his journalistic background, allows him to bring the best gaming content to your screens.
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