Several rescue excavations and less systematic work in the area of ancient Thebes yielded an abundance of evidence for the city's history and art. However continuous occupation and the presence of a thriving modern town over the ancient remains rendered impossible a full investigation of the site. Occupation began in Neolithic times (Pyri) and the settlement was already strong in Early Helladic (3000 - 2000 B.C.) and Middle Helladic period (2000 - 1680 B.C.). The city reached its highest point of splendour and power in Mycenaean period (1600-1100 B.C.). Thebes was a considerable settlement in geometric and archaic times and during the classical period gained "the hegemony" over the rest of Greece (371-362 B.C.). After the battle of Chaironeia (338 B.C.) and its complete destruction by the Macedons (335 B.C.). Thebes never regained its former glory and power.

In the years before 1900 only sporadic excavations took place in the area of Thebes. Between 1906 and 1929 A. Keramopoullos excavated remains of the Mycenaean palace and of fortifications on the Kadmeia as well as several mycenaean chamber tombs and the foundations of the Temple of Apollo Ismenios. N. Platon and E. Touloupa (1963-1965) and later other members of the Greek Archaeological Service revealed some important parts of Mycenaean administrative center on the citadel as well as the foundations of ancient and medieval buildings investigated in the Lower town. Quite recently (1993-95) a cospicuous number of clay tablets (c.250) were found in the area of the so-called "Armoury".

Restoration work at Thebes began, for the first time in 1994 with the consolidation and restoration of the monumental chamber tomb of the "Sons of King Oedipus" in the hills of Kastellia. Works continue and will be completed in the few next years.