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Minecraft Ancient Cities — Everything you need to know

Tread carefully as you explore The Warden’s home

Updated: Jun 13, 2022 8:22 am
Minecraft Ancient Cities — Everything you need to know

The long-awaited Wild Update brings with it new biomes the Mangrove Swamp and the Deep Dark, new mobs, new blocks and so much more. In this guide, we’re going to be looking in more detail at Minecraft’s Ancient Cities in particular, a new structure found in the Deep Dark – and the home of The Warden.

These almighty great structures can span hundreds of blocks, and are covered in glowing, turquoise Sculk and Sculk veins. Its palace walls are built of a combination of Deepslate bricks, wood and wool, with a central monument dedicated to The Warden that lives within its walls. All of this is then lit by Candles and Soul flames. As you roam an Ancient City, try and stay light on your feet as your footsteps will be picked up by nearby Sculk Sensors, and will alert The Warden of your presence, triggering a phenomenal wave of light and inflicting you with the Blindness Effect. What’s more, Ancient Cities hold many secrets within their walls, so read on to find out more about these gorgeous and mysterious structures.

Minecraft Ancient City 2

How do you find a Minecraft Ancient City?

Ancient cities are among the largest structures in Minecraft history, but they can be hard to find despite their large size. Minecraft developers have purposefully made the cities rare enough that they are not too easy to come by in survival mode, and there is also currently no way of finding them other than simply mining your way through the lower levels of your Minecraft world.

The only hint that you might come across an Ancient City is knowing you are in a Deep Dark biome, given away by the presence of Sculk blocks. And, in Java Edition, you can see which biome you’re in by pressing the F3 button – a bit more of an obvious giveaway (see image below). Ancient Cities also only generate with their floor on Y-level -52, so we recommend mining at around Y-level -50 so you might dig out into an Ancient City.

f3 menu biome finder locate structure
Where to find your current Biome in the F3 menu (Minecraft Java Edition only)

There is also an easy way of locating an Ancient City in creative mode with cheats on, if you’re simply looking to get a better look at one. Take a look at our guide on how to locate structures in Minecraft if you’d like help on how this works.

The Ancient City Structure

While you’re mining and caving your way through the Deep Dark caves, you’ll soon know when you’ve come across an Ancient City. The mammoth structure is formed of masses of interlocking hallways, looming Deepslate pillars and even naturally-generated redstone – the first since the Jungle Temple’s puzzle. Triggering Sculk sensors near redstone lamps will help light your way, but could also trigger your demise, as we’ll get to in a bit. Rooms, statues and smaller ruins line the side of the main corridors, and here you’ll find loot chests, decorative blocks and even Skeleton mob heads, all for the taking.


The Deep Dark’s Ancient Cities are formed mainly of The Caves and Cliffs Update’s Deepslate variants, such as Deepslate Bricks and Deepslate Tiles, as well as some Dark Oak wood. Ancient Cities are a great place to come hunting for loads of decorative building blocks and items, though, as you’ll also find the likes of Polished Basalt, Note Blocks, Candles, Soul Lanterns and even Skeleton Heads. And that’s not including the family of Sculk blocks found within the Deep Dark biome and its Ancient Cities.

Wool and Carpet

You also might be surprised to see the Ancient Cities’ halls lined with Wool blocks and Carpet. This is because of the importance sound plays in this location, thanks to Sculk sensors. We’ll go into a bit more detail on this further down when we talk about The Warden, but the pertinent fact about wool and carpet is that it muffles your Minecraft footsteps, masking your location from the blind, hostile mob.

City Center Warden monument

In the center of every Ancient City, there will be a large frame that resembles the eyeless face of the Warden above a pit of blue Soul flames, which previously only generated naturally in the Nether. Another unique part of the Warden’s head monument is the brand-new, unobtainable block Reinforced Deepslate, which fully lines the Warden’s “mouth”. As mentioned above, Reinforced Deepslate cannot be mined in survival mode, even with the Silk Touch enchantment.

The Warden Ancient City Centre Monument
The looming Warden monument in the center of the Ancient City

The Ancient City’s Secret Redstone rooms

Underneath the central monument, there will be a series of redstone circuits hidden in a secret room. In order to access the room, you will need to locate the redstone door towards the front of the structure, and figure out how to open it. Now, we have looked into this ourselves, but we’ll be putting it in a separate guide so as not to ruin it for redstone lovers who want to figure it out yourselves. If you would like a helping hand, however, check out this guide to the secret Ancient City Redstone room.

Ancient City secret redstone room
Naturally-generated redstone in the secret Ancient City hideout

Ice Box

There should also be at least one Ice Box in your Ancient City. You will know you’ve found one by the presence of Packed Ice blocks on top of it. Upon climbing the stairs to the top of the Ice Box, you will see two Stone Pressure Plates. Be careful, because if you step on these pressure plates, you’ll trigger the two Note Blocks in front of them, potentially alerting The Warden to your location. However, safely mount the Ice Box, and you’ll see another pressure plate. This one opens up a trap door, and you can descend into the safety of the secret room, and collect the loot that is inside.

Ancient City Ice Box
An Ancient City Ice Box

Ancient City Loot

Scattered throughout the various rooms and long corridors of these Deep Dark cities, you’ll find some loot Chests obtaining various items, including treasure, items unique to the Deep Dark, and loot useful in avoiding the wrath of The Warden.

Ancient City Chest loot table

ItemJava Edition chanceBedrock Edition chance
Snowball97% (Ice Box Chest)35.7%
Packed Ice80.5% (Ice Box Chest)x
Baked Potato54.9% (Ice Box Chest)x
Gold Carrot54.9% (Ice Box Chest)x
Suspicious Stew54.9% (Ice Box Chest)x
Soul Torch35.9%x
Potion of Regeneration35.9%x
Enchanted Book35.9%35.7%
Disk Fragment (5)29.8%
Echo Shard29.8%x
Amethyst Shard23.2%x
Glow Berries23.2%x
Bottle O’ Enchanting23.2%x
Enchanted Iron Leggings23.2%x
Enchanted Book (Swift Sneak)23.2%8.3%
Potion of Healingx26.4%
Sculk Sensor23.2%19.6%
Sculk Catalyst16.1%8.3%
Name Tag16.1%8.3%
Music Disk (13, or cat)16.1%x
Damaged Enchanted Diamond Hoe16.1%x
Enchanted Horse Armor16.1%x
Enchanted Diamond Leggings16.1%x
Enchanted Golden Apple8.4%x
Music Disk (otherside)8.4%x
Statistics from Minecraft Wiki

There are a few items above that are completely unique to the Deep Dark. The first of those is the Swift Sneak, an exclusive enchantment that can only be obtained from Ancient City Chest Loot, and cannot be imbued in an item via an Enchantment Table. Another Ancient City item with which you may not yet be familiar is the Echo Shard…

Echo Shards and the Recovery Compass

The Echo Shard is a new item to The Wild Update and can currently only be obtained from Ancient City loot chests. With only a 31% chance of spawning in a stack of 1-3 items, Echo Shards are incredibly rare. What’s worse, their game-changing use is for crafting a Recovery Compass, but the recipe requires eight Echo Shards to complete. As such, you’ll need to find Echo Shards in between three and eight separate Ancient City chests.

Minecraft Ancient City Deep Dark Echo Shard Recovery Compass

The Recovery Compass is an astounding new item also new to The Wild update. A Recovery Compass held by a player who recently died will point in the direction of the player’s death, thus helping you get back your items when you are inevitably killed by The Warden. However, The Recovery Compass, despite its use, does not stay with the player upon death. Therefore, you will need to craft one and keep it somewhere safe, preferably your spawn point in your base. Then, when you wake up in your Minecraft bed with nothing by a splitting headache, you’ll be able to take your Recovery Compass with you to recover your lost loot. The compass will spin uncontrollably when held by a player who hasn’t recently died or is in another plane to where they died (e.g The Nether or The End).

The Minecraft Warden

Finally, perhaps the main draw of the Ancient Cities is finally getting a glimpse of the newest hostile mob, The Warden. Although it might also be the last thing you see. 

The Warden is the most brutal mob in Minecraft, so much so that it doesn’t drop any loot because your chances of killing it are, well, let’s say slim. Instead, your only option with The Warden is to avoid it. The Warden is blind, so thankfully it can’t see where you are, but this is where sound comes into play in Ancient Cities. The sound of your footsteps will be picked up by Sculk Sensors, a Redstone transmitter that will relay a signal to nearby Sculk Shriekers, which in turn let out a loud screaming sound, alerting The Warden to your presence. And you’re not the only mob that can trigger this series of events. Anything that moves in the Deep Dark, including Bats, Zombies and Skeletons, could trigger The Warden’s appearance.

The Warden Ancient City
It may be dangerous, but it’s also super cute – right?

If and when The Warden appears, you’ll need to keep it away from you. To do this, stay still or make sure you’re crouching when you walk. Walking on Carpet or Wool Blocks will also help dull your footsteps. Additionally, throwing projectiles will cause a noise where it lands, distracting The Warden away from your location. This is why you’ll find Snowballs in Ancient City chests, in case you were wondering.

If The Warden bumps into you (or you, it), it will kill you almost instantly, even if you’re wearing full enchanted Netherite armor. It also has a ranged attack, which was a surprise addition to The Warden’s behaviour… as if it wasn’t difficult enough to escape already. So, if you think getting some height or distance from The Warden will help, it won’t. Make a sound and The Warden’s rib cage will open up as it throws its head back, letting out a sonic attack that can even penetrate walls.

We’ll go into more detail on The Warden in its own dedicated guide, but for now, that’s everything on the amazing, mysterious and wide-spanning Ancient Cities. Happy exploring!

More Minecraft structures

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