During the 17th and 18th centuries travellers (such as J. Spon, G. Wheler, E.D.Clarke) who visit Eleusis dig over Eleusis by stealth and they take back at home some “souvenirs”. Among them the most known is Karyatide that is in Cambridge now, picked up by Clarke, who thought that it was a statue of goddess Demeter.
The first study of the ruins is made during 1812 by the Society of Dilettanti. Their mission detected Telesterion, studied the Greater Propylaea, sketched the Lesser Propylaea and identified the temple of Artemis. Their studies were published in 1817, as "The Unedited Antiquities of Attica".
In 1859, the Great Eleusinian relief, with Demeter, Kore and Triptolemos, was found by chance in a place near the Archaeological site, a small church that we can visit now, St. Zacharias.
In 1860, French Archaeologist Fr. Lenormant, dug over the Greater Propylaea area, with a dispensation by Greek Government.
The real excavations in Eleusis start in 1882 by the Archaeological Society of Athens, supported by the Greek Government, since in 1877 they had started to disappropriate the village houses that they were all over the place.
The first director was Dem. Philios, who was supported by a German architect, named Dorpfeld. Dem. Philios worked in Eleusis till 1894.
Andreas Skias took over the leadership and he worked till 1907, when he became a professor in the University of Athens and it was impossible to continue in Eleusis.
Excavations started again in 1917 under Con.Kourouniotes responsibility, always with Archaeological Society of Athens. He cooperated with G.Mylonas, I.Travlos and I.Threpsiades. These three continued after Kourouniotes’ death in 1945.
G.Mylonas, until his death, in 1985 was involved in studies and researches about Eleusis.
St.Zacharias’ small church was used as the first museum in Eleusis, where the Great Eleusinian relief was exhibited at first. Besides the small church, Lenormant uses a house also.
Emile Isambert in "Itinéraire de l'Orient" (Paris 1881) notes: «Les inscriptions et les scultures trouvées dans les Fouilles sont conservées, sous la garde d'un invalide, dans un petit musée spécial, organisé dans la maison du commandant Lascas, à côté des premiers propylées».
After the first findings by Dem.Philios the most valuable are transported to Athens, mainly to National Archaeological Museum. The rest are gathered in a house, close to Sanctuary.
The first building that was built as a Museum started in 1889 on the Acropolis and it was one among the first Museum of Greek State. It is still our Museum, since it was expanded during the 20th century. During the 2nd World War the findings were kept safely. In 1947 the exhibition started again.
Now, we are expecting for a new Museum, equal to the importance of the place and completing the requirements of our times.