Ancient Thebes is unfortunately buried under modern Thebes. The city has enjoyed several incarnations at least two of which were purposely destroyed. First by Alexander the Great following the Battle of Chaironeia in 338 BC, when Thebes varied its long standing policy of opposition to Athens and sided with them against Phillip of Macedon. Alexander made an example of Thebes and killed 6,000 inhabitants and sold the rest (30,000) into slavery, probably on the sacred island of Delos.
The city was rebuilt by Casander in 316 but was captured in 290 by Dimitrios Poliorketes.
The second time Thebes was destroyed was by Sulla in 86 BC after it had sided with Mithridates in his war against Rome. (Thebes museum left)
Sulla dismembered the city and gave half of it to the Delphians in compensation for his looting the Oracle precinct. In 248 AD and again in 396 it was plundered by the Goths.
Seven Gated Thebes is primarily famous for two reasons. One is the period during the 4th century BC when for nine short years, it was a center of power in Greece. After the Peloponnesian Wars, Athenian Imperialism was replaced by Spartan supremacy and during the power vacuum that ensued Thebes successfully expanded its sphere of influence to include Tanagra, Thespiae and Platea where it came into conflict with Sparta. At Leuctra in 371 BC the outnumbered Thebian troops under Epaminondas, defeated those of the Spartan general Cleombrotus. Unfortunately for the Thebian's, it was Epaminondas leadership that gave them their impetus and upon his death in 362 BC, at the battle of Manitea, Thebian resolve faltered being replaced by Macedonian monarchy over all Greece under Phillip II, father of Alexander the third (the Great).