The first finds came to light accidentally in 1813. The Swiss Colonel of the British Army, Charles Philippe de Bosset (governor of the islands of Kefalonia and Ithaca since March 1810) had ordered the opening of a new road in the area of Livathos. The need to mine limestone soil for the coating of the road, lead to the hills of Mazarakata, where the local sandstone was the most suitable rock for mining. The properties of the soft sandstone were well known to local residents of the Mycenaean era, three millennia earlier, where they carved the now well-known chamber tombs. During the accidental discovery of the cemetery, four tombs were disturbed. The Mycenaean civilization was totally unknown at the time. The tombs were described as “catacombs”, their contents were collected and came under the ownership of the governor. Colonel de Bosset later donated them to the Museum of Neuchatel in Switzerland, where they lay forgotten for decades until they were identified much later. To this day, they remain in Switzerland.
In 1899 the cemetery was re-discovered by P. Kavadias, who excavated the site between 1908 and 1909. Between de Bosset and Kavadias a tolal of 16 chamber tombs were investigated, while a 17th tomb came to light much later, in 1951. The latter was located below the regional road and became visible after the road collapsed. It was investigated by Spyridon Marinatos and was subsequently covered up.
Recently, the site was promoted through the European Programme NSRF 2007-2013