It was originally an area of marshland along the banks of the Eridanos river which was used as a cemetery as long ago as the 3rd millennium BC. It became the site of an organised cemetery from about 1200 BC; numerous cist graves and burial offerings from the period have been discovered by archaeologists. The cemetery was also where the Ηiera Hodos (the Sacred Way, i.e. the road to Eleusis) began, along which the procession moved for the Eleusinian Mysteries.
Archaeological excavations in the Kerameikos began in 1870 under the auspices of the Greek Archaeological Society. They have continued from 1913 to the present day under the German Archaeological Institute at Athens. Now, on friday, the Greek Culture Ministry announced a significant find at the archaeological site: a well probably used for hydromancy rituals. The well was revealed when archaeologists overturned a marble stone and it bore an inscription on the walls addressed to Apollo, the ancient Greek god of phrophecy and was probably used for divination in early Roman times, as the lettering suggests.
The ancient Greek phrase “ΕΛΘΕ ΜΟΙ Ω ΠΑΙΑΝ ΦΕΡΩΝ ΤΟ ΜΑΝΤΕΙΟΝ ΑΛΗΘΕC” as well as about twenty other pieces of writings have been found on the mouth of the well previously solely attributed to either Artemis of Hekate. The invocation phrase seems to have been addressed to Apollon, however, and it identifies the spot as the first and unique Apollon divination site in Athens, confirming the worshipping of the ancient God along with his sister Artemis and restoring the accurate interpretation of the site as a shrine.
The excavation was carried out under the direction of Dr Jutta Stroszeck from the German Archaeological Institute and the supervision of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Athens.