The temple complex at Eleusis was one of the most elaborate and widely used sanctuaries around in ancient Hellas. It was the home of the Eleusinian Mysteries, and thus served as the cult's sanctuary. Like many--if not all--ancient monuments, the ancient temple site of Eleusis has not withstood the test of time and humanity particularly well; foundations remain, but much of the grand complex is completely gone.

Remains of the Telesterion

One of Eleusis' grand features was a large hall, capable of housing thousands by the 5th century BC. The hall, known as the Telesterion served as the key hall for the Mysteries; here the initiates were shown a reenactment of the events that led to the founding of the Eleusinian Mysteries in the form of an elaborate dance, and they were shown the sacred relics. Anything that hppened at the Telesterion was considered especially secret, and the punishment for revealing what went on in the hall was death.

The Telesterion was destroyed by the Persians after the Battle of Thermopylae, and was rebuilt some time later by Pericles. In AD 170, during the rule of Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, if was destroyed again by an ancient tribe called the Costoboci, who launched an invasion of Roman territory south of the Danube. Marcus Aurelius had the Telesterion rebuilt. In AD 396, the forces of Alaric the Visigoth invaded the Eastern Roman Empire and ravaged Attica, destroying the Telesterion, after which it was never rebuilt.

Now, the Archaeology News network reports, an agreement of cultural development has been signed between the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs, Culture and Sports and the Region of Attica. With a budget of €100,000,-, the Telesterion is getting an overhaul. The following restorations and initiatives are reported:
  • topographic and architectural mapping
  • full documentation of the current state of the monument
  • archaeological-architectural documentation
  • submission of proposals about its protection and the enhancement of the Telesterion area.
  • 200 scattered architectural members will be moved during the second and third month of the project, while part of them will be documented and photographed.
  • rescue interventions will be carried out on walls and figurines
  • rock samples will be collected from the rockmass
  • the damages of the monument will be recorded and evaluated to specify the type of necessary rescue interventions
It is quite a list, and it's not surprising that the project will take 24 months. It will be conducted by the 3rd Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, who oversee all matters concerning the discovery, safeguard and protection of Hellenic heritage, their exposition in museums, the conservation, reconstruction, study and publication of the monuments as well as the administrative duty to assure the observance of the legislative decrees concerning the antiquities.