Eleusis is almost 14 miles west of Athens and has been occupied since the Bronze Age, but it was abandoned around 1200 B.C. and reoccupied in the 8th, according to Hugh Bowden, in Mystery Cults of the Ancient World
. Tradition attributes to Theseus the uniting of 12 Attic Cities (referred to as a 'synoecism'), making Eleusis part of Attica. Eleusis became part of the Roman Empire. It was sacked in A.D. 395 by Alaric and the Goths. At this time, after the Roman Empire had been Christianized, that for which Eleusis was most famous was discontinued: Eleusis is most famous for its mysteries.
Initiation rites into the Eleusinian mysteries were held in the Telesterion of Demeter at Eleusis. The architect Ictinos in the fifth century B.C. rebuilt the Telesterion, which had originally been built in about 750 B.C. Ictinos also helped build the Athenian Parthenon. By this time involvement in the Eleusinian mysteries had spread beyond Greece. The Roman Emperor Hadrian was initiated into the Mysteries. However the anti-pagan decree of Theodosius and the Visigoths' destruction of the sanctuary -- which had been rebuilt under Marcus Aurelius -- at the end of the fourth century A.D., put an end to the religious activity of Eleusis.
Archaeologists of the Dilettanti Society began excavating Eleusis in 1811.
Source: Perseus Eleusis
Featured Thursday's Term to Learn.
Aeschylus, one of the three great Greek writers of tragedy, was from Eleusis.