The ruins of the ancient town of Thorikos are located on the east coast of Attica, around 10km (6 mi) north of Cape Sounion.
Being one of the oldest deme of Attica, Thorikos is traditionally considered as being one of the 12 settlements which took part in the political unification, under Athenian hegemony, by Theseus. (Strab. 9.1.20)
By virtue of its proximity to the all-important silver mines of Lavrion, Thorikos was the regional mining centre and was fortified (Xen. Hell. 1.2.1) so as both to protect the sea route to Athens and the silver mines at Lavrion, which were instrumental in Athens’ rise to maritime and geopolitical supremacy.
Under uninterrupted habitation from as early as the Neolithic era (ca 4500 BC) up to the 1st century BC, where, under the Romans, it fell into decay.
The broader site comprises three areas: the plain of Thorikos where the Society of the Dilettanti uncovered part of an ancient building in 1812, Velatouri hill where most of the ancient remains have been found and the peninsula of Aghios Nikolaos to the east.
The theatre of Thorikos is on the southern slope of the hill; it was excavated in 1886 and is noted for the rectangular shape of its orchestra. Studies indicate that the theatre dates back to the 5th century BC. To the SW of the theatre stood a temple of Dionyssos.
Above the theatre and on the sides of the hill are strewn the remains of the city’s industrial quarter, where traces of roads, stairs and houses can still be seen, whilst an ore-enrichment area is defined by a series of basins connected by channels. A Mycenaean tholos tomb as well as graves from various periods as well as parts of a prehistoric settlement, including a Mycenaean metal-working zone, have been unearthed.
At least six towers, seven gateways, four stairways and more than 600 metres (1,970 ft) of walls can still be traced as part of the fortification system of Thorikos.