In antiquity, Laurium (modern Lavrio) was of decisive importance for the history of Athens because beneath it lay rich deposits of lead and silver. The income from the mines of Laurium allowed the Athenians to strengthen their naval power and create the miracle of the fifth century BC. At Kamariza, near the modern town, interesting ruins of the ancient mining installations have survived.
Close to Lavrio is Thorikos, a site occupied even in prehistoric times and later a centre for the processing of the ore mined at Laurium. Among the ruins of the ancient settlement are what has remained of one of the earliest surviving Greek theatres. It took the shape we see today in the sixth and fifth century BC, with an elliptical orchestra and cavea. The temple and altar of Dionysus, to the west of the theatre, also date from the fifth century BC.