Good Archaeology Games
Martin Rundkvist
Sweden
Saltsjöbaden
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I'm an archaeologist by trade, and so I enjoy an archaeological game now and then. I don't mean games set in the distant past, like Stone Age or Tigris & Euphrates or Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization. Nor do I mean games set in more recent eras that also interest archaeologists, like Hansa or Commands & Colors: Napoleonics. This is a geeklist of good games about archaeologists and their work. The ones I've seen aren't very realistic, but there are some good ones. Feel free to add the ones you like to play, with a geek rank of at least 5000!

(And note that archaeologists pay no professional attention to dinosaurs. That's palaeontology.)
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1. Board Game: Tikal [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:155]
Martin Rundkvist
Sweden
Saltsjöbaden
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The premise of Tikal is pretty absurd. A number of archaeological expeditions reach an area of jungle-covered ruins in the Yucatan peninsula at the same time and realise to their surprise that they all have permits to dig in the same region. The expedition leaders react to this coincidence by ordering an all-out plunderfest where everybody tries to get as much loot as possible, employing the locals as manual labour. Good fun!
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2. Board Game: Thebes [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:262]
Martin Rundkvist
Sweden
Saltsjöbaden
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This game really makes fun of my whole profession. Sure, you play the role of an early 1900s archaeologist who does research in libraries and goes to the areas of ancient civilisations to do fieldwork. But the goal of the game isn't to find out about it past: it's simply to become as famous as possible. When you dig, half of what you find is termed "useless junk" and you don't even bring it home from the site. You just look for "treasure" that you can exhibit in Paris and Berlin. And one strategy that works is to simply go to as many conferences as possible and make sure everybody knows about you -- even though you never dig.
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3. Board Game: Lost Cities [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:261]
Martin Rundkvist
Sweden
Saltsjöbaden
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This fine two-player game (that can actually be played using only two standard decks of cards and a marker pen) is decorated with a thin veneer of archaeological practice. You mount archaeological expeditions to up to five forgotten civilisations, one of whose imagery is heavily influenced by 1st millennium Scandinavia, and try to secure funding from fickle donors who will reward you lavishly if you find anything good but also punish you if you fail.
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4. Board Game: Mykerinos [Average Rating:6.91 Overall Rank:538]
Mats Blohmé
Sweden
Simlångsdalen
Halland
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The players embody archaeologists working for patrons. They excavate the land of Egypt to find precious artifacts, which will adorn the most prestigious rooms of the Museum. At the end of the game, the Museum organizes a great exhibition. The player who has earned the most prestige (by discovering things and getting advantageous places in the Museum) wins the game.
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5. Board Game: Archaeology: The Card Game [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:825]
Kent Reuber
United States
San Mateo
California
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Players assemble useful items from the market. There's nothing like finding the other half of a broken cup, which you can then sell to a museum.
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6. Board Game: Expedition [Average Rating:6.90 Overall Rank:1061]
Martin Rundkvist
Sweden
Saltsjöbaden
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I haven't played this, but I heard about it on the current issue of the Dice Tower podcast and it has a respectable geek rank.
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7. Board Game: Pergamon [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:667]
Mats Blohmé
Sweden
Simlångsdalen
Halland
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Here's an upcoming release. Seems to capture everyday life of an archaeologist perfectly.


Excavating the site is what players have to do; well in fact rob the place, ship the loot and bring it home and sell it to a museum. The rules only mention that the player who gets the most recognition from the museum's visitors wins the game.
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8. Board Game: Tikal II: The Lost Temple [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:968]
Juanlu Bermudez
Spain
Málaga
Málaga
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Unlike the first Tikal (see avobe) Tikal II actually drags you into an adventure (think King Solomon's Mines). Very thematic, clever and fun euro.
 
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9. Board Game: Ilium [Average Rating:6.17 Overall Rank:3522]
Martin Rundkvist
Sweden
Saltsjöbaden
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Another decently ranked game with the core archaeological themes.
 
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10. Board Game: Lost Temple [Average Rating:5.97 Overall Rank:3390]
Martin Rundkvist
Sweden
Saltsjöbaden
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Who knows what the man in the fedora will do now?
 
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11. Board Game: Expédition Altiplano [Average Rating:6.23 Overall Rank:5708]
Martin Rundkvist
Sweden
Saltsjöbaden
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"Two archeological expeditions hunt for precious Incan treasures. They fight against each other by means of different Characters (Archeologists and Daredevils)."

Just like my days at work!
 
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12. Board Game: Archaeology [Average Rating:6.12 Overall Rank:5953]
B Mendez
United States
Eau Claire
Michigan
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From the game description:

Working as an archaeologist, you’ll discover ancient artifacts and search for the right pieces to complete torn parchments, broken stone tablets and other long forgotten valuables.

By trading shrewdly at the local marketplace you’ll increase the value of your collection. Sell your treasures to the museum at just the right time for maximum profit. If you are lucky, you might find an ancient chest packed with goodies, but you'll need the right keys to unlock it for the big haul. And beware! Cunning thieves also lurk around the dig site, ready to steal your prize discovery!
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