The archaeological activity in Boeotia begins in the mid 19th century by local antiquaries and some archaeologists from the Athens Archaeological Society and some foreign schools. Their main concern was to save the various antiquities found here and there from monger.
By the last decades of the 19th century the large systematic excavations begin by foreign schools and the newly formed Antiquities Department of the state. These excavations continued through the 20th century in many places in Boeotia.
This long and tedious activity of the foreign and national parties around Boeotia enriched the collections of the Museum of Thebes with treasures of unique artistic importance and historical value. Many of the protagonists of the archaeological research in Boeotia are considered among the forefathers of Archaeology in Greece.
A concise timeline of the archaeological research in Boeotia
- 1868. The philologist Spyridon Findiklis and his assistant Ioannis Papadakis start the first excavations in Thebes and Plataea.
- 1871 and on: The archaeologist Panagiotis Stamatakis and later Epameinondas Koromantzos, a teacher, affiliates of the Athens Archaeological Society, run through Boeotia to save the antiquities from the illicit trade.
- 1879: Panagiotis Stamatakis excavates the group tomb of the Sacred Band warriors who fell in the Battle of Chaeronea. 254 skeletons along with their personal belongings were uncovered.
- 1880-1881: Heinrich Schliemann begins excavations in Orchomenos. He excavates the area inside and around the famous Minyas Treasure.
- 1882: Panagiotis Stamatakis begins the excavation of the group tomb of the warriors from Thespiae who fell in the battle of Delion in 424 BC.
- 1884: The French Archaeological School begins excavations at Apollo’s temple in Mount Ptoon.
- 1888: The German Archaeological Institute begins excavation of the Kavireion, in Thebes.
- 1889: The American School of Classical Studies begin excavating of ancient Plataea.
- 1892-1893: Eustratios Kalopais, a Theban lawyer, begins excavations to uncover the fortifications and gates of the lower part of the ancient city.
- 1883: Excavations in Glas begin by the French Archaeological School.
- 1897: Dimitrios Filios excavates the first Mycenaean chamber tombs in Kolonaki at Thebes.
- 1902: Georgios Sotiriadis excavates the tomb of the fallen Macedons at the battle of Chaeronea in 338 BC. Among the ashes of the burial fire the bones of the warriors along their iron made weapons and other personal items, are found in a depth of 7 metres. The same year, Sotiriadis locates the Neolithic settlement “Magoula Balomenou,” around 2 Km NE of Chaeronea.
- 1902: Begins the restoration of the Lion of Chaeronea by Lazaros Fitalis and Lazaros Sochos, sculptors from the island of Tenos, along with the engineer Nikolao Balano.
- 1903. The Bavarian Academy of Science begins excavation at Orchomenos.
- Antonios Keramopoulos begins the systematic excavations of the Mycenaean Thebes, starting at the Kolonaki hill.
- 1907: The British School of Athens begins excavations in Ritsona.
- 1910: Antonios Keramopoulos excavates the temple of Apollo at the Isminion hill, SE of Cadmeia.
- 1911: Nikolaos Papadakis undergoes extensive excavations at Tanagra’s nekropolis.
- 1914: Anastasios Orlantos restores the roof of the side burial chamber of the Mycenaean tomb of Minyas, at Orchomenos.
- 1921: Georgios Sotiriou begins excavating the church of Agios Gregorios Theologue in Thebes.
- 1924: The American School of Classical Studies begin excavations at Eutresis.
- The British School at Athens begins excavation at Ancient Aliartos.
- 1956: Ioannis Threpsiadis, Ephor of Antiquities, begins excavation of the sanctuary of Artemis in Aulis.
- 1959: The architect Anastasios Orlantos restores the Byzantine church of Agia Sophia in Thebes.
- 1964: Nikolaos Platon and Evi Touloupa excavate the “Treasury” and the “Armory” of the Mycenaean palace of Thebes. This excavation brought to light many luxury items that originate from various places of the Eastern Mediterranean, weapons and horse reins, as well as the first Linear B tables from Thebes.
Modern archaeological activities
The archaeological activities in Boeotia in modern times includes excavations, surface surveys, protection of areas with archaeological importance, conservation, special studies and restoration works. These activities are mainly carried out but the Department of Antiquities and occasionally with the collaboration of the Athens Archaeological Society and Foreign Schools.
Current archaeological projects around Boeotia
Excavation of the Mycenaean palace of Thebes
East Boeotia Archaeological Project
The Ismenion: Herakleion Project