TTT Prehistoric Era How-To: Excavation Site

Hey Howdy Hey Tappers!

Wowzers!  Dinos are roaming the streets of our Springfield’s as we’ve flashed wayyyy back in time, via Homer’s toaster, to the Prehistoric Era!  This all new Time Travel Toaster Event is full of fun historic flashbacks, kicking things off with a trek back to Dinos and Cavepeople!

You can tell EA is trying to do a few things different with this event…for starters it’s a week shorter and there are more prize elements, but it’s really the Excavation Site that people are digging…see what I did there? 

The Excavation Game has Tappers everywhere talking…about the best strategy, how many moves they can find the Gem in and apparently it’s become almost as addicting as this site !;)

So let’s breakdown the how-tos of this dig site & explore just what is the best dig strategy….

As we always do, let’s start with the basics…

How Do I Get Started With the Excavation Site?

To get the Excavation Site you’ll have to work on the main questline, launch the event and then start the Buried In Time questline.  Buried in Time Pt.1 is what triggers you to build the Excavation Site.

Note: ou’ll see that there are two layers to the Dig Site once you start digging.  The Grass layer (as shown above) and the dirt layer, which appears after you’ve cleared the Grass Grid (i.e. found the Gem).

Once you’ve cleared the dirt layer it resets back to grass.

I Have a Task to Unearth a Gem, but I Ran Out of Shovels.  How do I Get More?!  I’m Stuck!!!  It won’t let me move!!! PLEASE HELP!!!!

Ok maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration of the questions we’ve been seeing, but it does seem like some of you are getting stuck with this.  As part of the Buried In Time Pt.1 quest you’ll have to build the site AND Dig to unearth a Gem.  However it’s very possible you’ll run out of shovels (in fact i recommend doing so, but ONLY with this part) before you find the Gem.

If this happens…DO NOT PANIC!  Just breath.  Seriously, it’s going to be ok.  As I’ve mentioned in the rundown post, during this part of the questline the game will give you more shovels for FREE.  Just keep tapping the boxes….And volia! Just like that you’ll have more shovels for FREE, to finish out this part of the questline.

I Did That, But My Game Reverted and Now I Have to Do the Same Part Over to Complete it!

If that happened, you should still have Mom and Pop’s (because that’s unlocked with the next part of the questline) so just make more shovels and dig again.  You’ll still get credit for it.

If you’re stuck in some weird time space Excavation Site continuum, and nothing is working.  My first suggestion is always to uninstall TSTO and reinstall it (as long as you have an EA account to save your game you won’t lose progress). If that doesn’t work and you’re not unstuck…contact EA.

What’s the Object of the Excavation Site?

So the object of the Site is to find the Gem in as few moves as possible.  You’ll need the Gems for the Excavation Site prize track (more on that in a moment).  In doing so you’ll earn more Fossils, Specimens (for Crafting) and Tacyons (for leveling up the Panini Press).

How Do I Dig?

Well the in game tutorial will show you, but basically you just Tap the Squares in the grid…

But like real life, unless you really want to get your hands dirty, you’ll need shovels to dig.  No digging with your hands, it really messes up your screen.

You can earn Shovels at Mom and Pop’s Hardware.

How do you get Mom and Pop’s Hardware?  Glad you asked.  You follow the questline.

The very next task, Buried in Time Pt. 2 will trigger you to build Mom and Pop’s Hardware. Via Mom and Pop’s you’ll be able to send characters on tasks to EARN Shovels to dig.

Note: for Buried in Time Pt. 2 you’ll only be able to send Lisa, Milhouse and Cletus to earn the shovels.  The tasks, ONLY for this part will be 6s long.  Once you’ve cleared this part of the questline it’ll revert to 4hrs.

How Long Are the Tasks to Earn Shovels? Who Can Earn Them? 

The Shovel Tasks are FOUR hrs, you knew it’d be in there somewhere.  For the Prehistoric Era you can send….

Gravedigger Billy
Cavegirl Booberella

And before you ask, to send them you just tap on Mom and Pop’s Hardware and the list will appear…

What Does the 199 Mean?

It’s the number of Shovels you can bank before you need to use them.  It’s irrelevant to 99% of you if you’re continuing to dig each time you get shovels.

What Does Each Character Earn at Mom and Pop’s?  How Many Shovels, How Many Fossils?

Regular Characters (Lisa, Milhouse, Celtus, Willie & Apu) earn 2 each and 104  each, when they complete the 4hr task at Mom and Pop’s

Gravedigger Billy earns 3  and 156 , every 4hrs at Mom and Pop’s

Cavegirl Booberella earns 4  and 208 , every 4hrs at Mom and Pop’s

So if you just have FREEMIUM characters, you’ll earn 10  and 520 , every 4hrs at Mom and Pop’s from their tasks

If you have everyone you’ll earn 17  and 884 , every 4hrs at Mom and Pop’s.

The Store Shows That I Can Buy Shovels For Donuts, Should I Spend Donuts On Them?


The Excavation Site is meant to be addicting.  The Shovels in the store are meant to be there to tempt you and feed your Addiction.  They want you to part with donuts over something silly like the shovels.  DO NOT DO IT!

The only time it may be acceptable, is if you’re way behind and need to catch up.  In which cause go with the biggest pack and play very smart to maximize your Gem total.

What Does the Dig Site Pay Out?

So for every square you dig up you’ll earn 42   and you’ll have a chance for Specimens and

The  and  will vary depending on where you tap (and it’s different at every level), but the Fossil Payout will always be 42/square.

Note: Upgrading the Panini Press will (at points) increase your payouts from the Excavation Site.  When this happens your Fossil rate per square tapped will increase.  42 is the base number, and the min you’d get per square.

What Are These Excavation Site Prizes?

In your event hub you’ll see that there are 5 Excavation Site Prizes to be earned.  You earn these as you collect Gems. You’ll need 48 Gems to unlock the Baby T-Rex.

I’ll cover more on prizes below.

Ok So Now I Know How To Dig, What’s the Best Way TO Dig?  Is There Strategy Involved?  Should I Just Tap Blindly? HELP!

Ok so the best way to beat the dig site and earn all 48 Gems you’ll need to unlock the Baby T-Rex before the Prehistoric Era is over (June 11) is to find the Gem in as FEW Digs as possible.

The Gem is ALWAYS Surrounded by Rocks.  Usually 4 blocks of Rocks, sometimes 2-3 if it’s on an edge.  Looks like this:

So a big thing is to always look for the rocks.

There are A LOT of strategies floating around out there. I posted several yesterday and there are more in the comments, as well as on the EA forum.  I can tell you’ve I’ve personally tested every one I posted yesterday, a few from the forums and 1 other method…it was a lot of digs (and a lot of donuts) and I’ve found the two BEST methods…in my opinion.  Here they are…

This first one is from DaPimp:

This is how you START your digs.  From here you go to the corners.  When you find rocks you stop the pattern and dig around to find the Gem.

As you can see in the image above, I found Rocks on the 3rd Tap so now you would dig around those rocks to find the Gem.  (i.e. stop the pattern and follow the rocks)

I ran this method from DaPimp A LOT.  And I’ve found it to be the best.  On average I found the Gem in 6 digs.

Now sometimes it’s less, sometimes it’s more.  It’s an average.  The most it took with this method was 14 and the least was 1.  (It only took 14 once in the test runs I did.  More often than not I was in single digits every single time)

It’s not perfect, there were 2 times I started in those 4 spots, went to the corners and still didn’t find a rock.  When that happens (and it’s not often), you just kind of rely on dumb luck..or looking to see what area isn’t uncovered. When that happened it took me 14 tries to find the Gem and 10 tries to find the Gem.  Every other time this was spot on.  So a 6 average was pretty solid.

Method 2…

This method is from Bugman.  I posted this one last night…

This is the pattern you need to follow to find the Rocks.  This one is pretty solid as well.

I completed this in the same number of tests as the other methods and this one averaged 6.8 digs to find the Gem.

With this method I did have a 14 Dig, as well as a couple 12s and a 10..but mostly single digits…and overall this was a good method as well.

Remember, you’re ultimately relying on a bit of luck once you find the stones, as to what direction the Gem will be.  So that plays a role in the number of digs as well.

Overall, these are the 2 best methods I’ve found.

Now, I know there are a ton of other methods floating around…so I’m sure I didn’t test every single one.  But these two work, have 6-6.8 averages and are really simple to follow.  I recommend either one.

Now That I Know The Strategy, What Are the Prizes?

This prizes are just for the Prehistoric Era and they will reset when the next Era hits…

There are 5 total prizes….

Prehistoric Foliage Pack of 3)- 3 Gems

Prehistoric Plant- 9 Gems

Dragonfly Rock- 16 Gems

Cave Drawing- 24 Gems

Baby T-Rex- 48 Gems, NPC.  Animated when tapped.

And that’s it my friends!  The details behind the Excavation site!  Complete with the best (IMO) strategies to find the Gems in the Shortest number of turns!

What are your thoughts on the Excavation Site?  How many Gems have you earned?  Are you using Strategy or just tapping blindly? Which Strategy do you find works?  Thoughts on the Excavation Prizes?  Sound off in the comments below, you know we love hearing from you!

129 responses to “TTT Prehistoric Era How-To: Excavation Site

  1. Has this happened to anyone else? I just tapped on Mom and Pop hardware after having set up tasks there six hours ago. I came home, fired up the game, and the shovel is hovering above the warehouse. I clicked on it and it gave me shovels. I go to dig, and it tells me I’m out of shovels!!! What??!!


  2. anyone else noticing the number of guesses before you hit rocks is going up? I have been keeping track and at the start, I would hit rocks within 4 guesses. Now I am averaging 7 guesses before a hit.


  3. OrdinarilyBob

    Great article, thanks Alissa!


  4. Does anyone have any idea why cecil terwilliger randomly appeared in my game? I missed the event, didn’t play the game for about a year and missed some 2014/15 stuff…


  5. Don’t know if this was addressed somewhere else:

    If you happen to find the gen in one move, is the payout the same as it would be if you made many digs? Like, I think you get 40 something shells each time you dig, and when you find the gem, all the squares disappear, so are you getting the shells for those squares too? Like, say once I claim the T. rex, but I still need other currency, would it be wise to AVOID the gen to get more, or is it the same regardless of how many digs you make?

    I hope that made sense…

    Thanks. ALWAYS come here for every update for info, great site!


    • Nope. And Nope. Because you need 48 gems to get baby t-rex. It’s not feasible to get there if you try to clear all the squares. Plus if you’re getting it on 1 try that’s “dumb luck” as I call it, and really not anything you can avoid.


  6. I use a variant of dapimp. I don’t know if anyone has mentioned this strategy. My apologies if I am recreating someone else’s idea. I think the method used above exposes you to corner risk, ie gem is in the corner. I decided to treat the site as 4 quadrants of 9 squares ie 4 quadrants of 3×3. Within each 3×3 quadrant I select the centre Square. The theory is if the gem is in any of squares surrounding the centre Square then it should have a rock in the centre Square. If no rock or gem, then you can eliminate 9 squares or a quadrant of the grid. Let’s say 3 quadrants are rock free, ie the 3 centre squares are rock free of the other 3 qudrants then that means there the gem is hidden in the last quadrant of 9 squares. Here’s where it gets interesting. Your first inclination is to select the centre Square in the last quadrant Actually don’t do that because You already know there is gem somewhere in the 9 squares so selecting the centre Square will tell you what already know, there’s a gem.
    If you select the centre Square and you get a rock (89% probability), you still have 8 squares to select from and you just wasted a shovel. Instead you’re better off selecting any Square surrounding the centre Square. If it’s a rock, you then have 3 squares left to select that may contain the gem (its 1 in 3 odds because it still could the centre Square). If you don’t get a rock, select the square opposite of the square you just selected. From there it’s just a matter of using the information from the squares you dug in the last quadrant to find the gem. I hope this helps


  7. Excellent detailed post Alissa! Thank you very much! 😀


  8. Really enjoy the digging, gives me an excuse to wear my $425 Nordstrom Dirty Jeans.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. EA hit a homerun with the excavation game. Really adds a fun new element. After seeing it yesterday I’ve been doing the 2nd method with great success. To improve my chances I start with the squares in the middle. Great post, thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I think there is a different sound when you get close (just dirt) I haven’t tested it too much yet since I ran out of shovels. But It looks like a “ringing sound” happens if you are within 2 tiles of the center. Like I said, not sure yet, but suggest some play with sound on and see if they can refine the info.


  11. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for your posts and all you do Alissa, Wookie, Pat, and Bunny! You have helped me so much since I started playing this back in…. um… I can’t remember! 😋This time I was so lost with the dig, didn’t clue into the ‘look for the rocks’ part and was wasting so many shovels literally going around the gem! I’m much better now and am using the Bugman method, because my brain remembers that pattern easily. Baby T-Rex you will be mine… Oh yes, you will be mine! 😁

    Liked by 3 people

    • DEE- Ditto! I’m using TEO47’s from yesterday & I’m on the Baby Dino already. So much happier. Thanks Addicts😊….💜X


  12. Thanks for the awesome advice bugmans method seems to be working quite well for me at the moment.


  13. Josephine Kick@$$

    I’m having fun when I can play 😊
    Thank you Alissa, Pimp, & Bugman 🙂


    • Thinking of you my friend! Hope you’ll be able to join us in California in August! 🙂


      • Josephine Kick@$$

        I have the email flagged, I’m really hoping to go also! I can’t wait to get to finally meet in person. I do love the webcasts though, they’re great! 😁


  14. I hear that some people still aren’t noticing when they hit a rock: In addition to the visual, there’s also an extra noise when you uncover it that sounds uncannily like hitting a rock with a shovel…


  15. The method posted by Teo47
    while a bit more complex is superior to the other methods posted above. It has a worst case scenario of 10 shovels while the ones above have 12 and 14 as worst cases. Teo47’s method also has the lowest theoretical average number of shovels required at 6.111 versus 6.167 for method 1.


    • Yes but it’s a lot more difficult for the average player to remember without a sheet in front of them. Sometimes it’s worth the slightly higher theoretical average to remember what you’re supposed to do…

      Liked by 1 person

    • Confirmed by computers!

      Output of a strategy simulator I wrote last night:

      ***** Declan’s strategy******
      games won:, 36
      games lost: , 0
      minimum moves:, 1
      maximum moves:, 12
      average num. moves, 6.166666666666667

      ***** Teo47’s strategy******
      games played:, 36
      games won:, 36
      games lost: , 0
      minimum moves:, 1
      maximum moves:, 10
      average num. moves, 6.111111111111111

      ***** Bugman’s strategy******
      games played:, 36
      games won:, 36
      games lost: , 0
      minimum moves:, 1
      maximum moves:, 14
      average num. moves, 7.361111111111111

      Teo47 is the champ, and I’m afraid that Bugman’s strategy is by far the worst (try running his pattern when the treasure is at [5,3], and when you’re checking neighbor squares in a clockwise pattern starting to the west): 14 moves.


      • Simulator is here:

        Feel free to add new strategies or improve the UI.


      • Like I said to G D…sometimes it’s more about the ease at which something is done than the actual small difference in numbers. It’s a lot easier to use Bugman’s strategy from memory than teo47’s. I don’t know about you, but I often tap when i’m NOT in front of the computer and just try to do things from memory. This is why i recommended Bugman’s and DaPimp’s. They may not be the best, but they work well, good results and they’re easy to do


        • It’s actually really easy to memorize and master teo47’s strategy, so one does not need a reference in front of them while tapping 🙂 I average 4 moves, and I’m sure the slightly higher average of the others can add up in the long run. I apologize but I guess I think like a racer where every second counts and you do whatever it takes to have that slight advantage


  16. Thanks so much for the pictures. Makes way more sense than the strings of numbers I keep seeing.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. my technique is every other plot around the outside (they seem to be most likely to be touching the edge from my experience) then swipe down in a checkerboard.


  18. Thanks for the help for the Excavation Game 😊


  19. So are we racing to see who gets 48 gems the fastest? 🏁

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Am I the only geek who sees Dapimp’s method as a knight’s square (chess)

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Thanks for the advise and for trying all those methods! I’m having fun digging.


  22. I think I know the answer to this question, but the gems needed for the prizes–are they cumulative? So you need 3 gems for the prehistoric foliage, and then 6 more gems for the prehistoric plant (for a total of 9 gems collected)? Or do you need 3 for the foliage, 9 for the plant (for a total of 12 gems). I think it’s the first one, based on what I see in my game, but I like to be sure, and I know you know. lol


  23. It’s kind of like minesweep :D! Except in this case we’re not trying to avoid the hidden elements

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Is this an update? I have had no update to my game since May 12th. Not in game and not in my app store. I keep checking and nada. Can’t figure out how to participate in this quest! I’m on Android.


  25. Changing the subject…..I found a new video for the new Futurama, Worlds of Tomorrow game coming soon- found here:

    It doesn’t look like the same kind of game as TSTO. 😦


    • Nope…looks like Family Guy double 😦

      Liked by 1 person

    • I have it, since I’m in Ireland. It’s not like Tapped out, but it’s fun anyway. You start with Fry, and you have to rebuild New New York and find the others. For each other character you have to earn certain things to ‘recruit’ them by doing specific jobs, and you can go on missions to earn resources. It’s hard to earn money but I’m enjoying it anyway!


    • That is some solid advertising right there. I hope you get a free copy of the game.


    • I will surely give it a chance, but if it is similar to TinyCo’s Family Guy game regarding the terrible grinding, p2w focus and limited town design options, then i’ll drop it just like the FG game.


  26. ellieoftheflump

    hi Alissa ET AL
    Once you have the TREX should you continue collecting shovels for next part??? Will they carry over to next part?. Thanks


    • I would assume they do, but I can’t say for certain. It wouldn’t hurt, but it also doesn’t hurt to finish the prize track and get more crafting currency


  27. One nice thing is that you can work on Cavegirl Booberella questline and still get shovels as payouts, so you don’t have to wait for the event to be over.


  28. Jamie Boughen

    I’ve been using the second method you showed…because my old and much abused brain can remember it. Lots of 3’s and 4’s, some in the double digits. (One was 16, because I goofed up.) Average is around 6-7 shovels/digs, so I think I’ll stick with strategy 2 for the rest of the event.


    Liked by 1 person

  29. Great post! Very helpful. DaPimp’s advice is perfect. It makes a lot of sense. On a side note- I hit the gem on the first try this morning! Very lucky.

    Liked by 2 people

  30. Excellent advice Alissa thank you! ☆

    Liked by 2 people

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