Pausanias (Παυσανίας) was a Greek travel writer who lived in the second century AD, during the reigns of the Roman emperors Hadrian (117-138 AD), Antoninus Pius (138-161 AD) and Marcus Aurelius (161-180 AD). Nothing is known about his life apart from what can be gleaned from his only known book, Description of Greece
), a ten volume 
account in Greek of his visits to various Greek cities in Attica, the Peloponnese and central Greece, written between 165 and 180 AD. 
Scholars believe he may been a doctor from Lydia in Anatolia (Asia Minor), perhaps a native of Magnesia ad Sypilum (today Manisa, Turkey) 
, Smyrna (today Izmir) or Thyatira, since his references to this area are so detailed.
In Description of Greece
he described the topography, buildings, particularly temples, and works of art he saw and considered noteworthy at each place. He included information about the history, myths, legends and traditions of particular places, often relating what he had been told by local people. He also mentioned other places around the Graeco-Roman world he had visited, including the west coast of Anatolia (Lydia, Ionia, Pergamon, Troy, Alexandria Troas), Macedonia, Mycenae, Antioch, Joppa, Jerusalem, the River Jordan, Egypt, Campania and Rome.
The first thirty chapters of the work are devoted to Attica and Athens, and it has been estimated that he was there some time between 143 and 159 AD. For example, he mentioned the new Panathenaic Stadium
built by Herodus Atticus
before 143 BC 
, but wrote that he had left Athens before the building of the Odeion of Herodes Atticus
had begun (around 160 AD).
He then describes places in the Peloponnese, including Corinth, Laconia, Messenia, Elis, Achaia and Arcadia. He ends with central Greece: Thebes in Boeotia, Delphi in Phocis and Ozolian Locris.
Pausanias did not claim to be an expert on the history, culture or art of Greece, and often admitted his ignorance on certain subjects. He failed to mention several buildings (for example the Temple of Rome and Augustus
and the Stoa of Attalus in Athens, although he does mention Attalus
himself), statues and features considered important to other ancient authors and modern scholars. Perhaps he did not find some things remarkable or memorable enough to include in his account, omitted them for sake of brevity, or simply found himself unable to cope with the enormous number of monuments (epecially in Athens).
The 19th century antiquarian and topographer William Martin Leake (1777-1860) suggested that some of his omissions may have been diplomatic, for "fear of giving offence, which in several instances has caused him to use obscure language, when examples occurred of Roman barbarism, or Greek baseness." 
However, he occasionally expressed his scepticism on some of the things he was told by his informants, particularly concerning local traditions, myths and legends, perhaps with a knowing wink to his more sophisticated readers. Some commentators have suggested that he was not sceptical enough, since he sometimes repeated information which is now believed to be incorrect. At the sanctuary of Despoina (Persephone) at Lykosoura in the Peloponnese he was told that a colossal statue group of Demeter and Despoina had been sculpted by Damophon of Messene
from a single piece of stone (Description of Greece
, Book 8, chapter 37, sections 3-7). The fragments of this group were discovered by archaeologists in 1889 (see below
), and found to be constructed of several separately worked pieces joined by iron and lead dowels and cement. The Greek archaeologist Konstantinos Kourouniotis commented:
"One imagines that Pausanias derived the story about the single block of marble, from which the group of Demeter and Despoina was constructed, from servants of the temple who were in the habit of playing on the credulity of tourists in order to enhance the miraculous nature of their sanctuary." 
Today his book is considered an invaluable source of first-hand information about the life, culture, religion and art of ancient Greece. This was not always the case, and it appears it was not a great success in antiquity. Neither he nor his work are known to have been mentioned by any other ancient writer until Stephanus Byzantius in the sixth century AD. Only three poor, incomplete manuscripts, all thought to have been copied from a single manuscript by Niccolo Niccoli of Florence (1364-1437), survived into the 15th century. The first printed edition of the work, edited by Marcus Musurus, was published by Aldus Manutius in 1516.
In the 19th century some scholars considered Pausanias' accounts to be second-hand and unreliable, and even doubted that he had visited the places he wrote about. However, during the same century archaeologists and historians travelling and excavating in Greece and Turkey, including Leake and Heinrich Schliemann, were already discovering that his descriptions provided reliable information about ancient sites, buildings and even individual artworks which were being discovered and studied.
In several cases, his reports have proved invaluable to archaeological research. Despite being misled about the construction of the statue group in the temple of Despoina at Lykosoura, Pausanias' own observations and detailed description of the statues were essential to the identification and reconstruction of the group depicting Artemis, Demeter, Despoina and the Titan Anytos, which had been discovered broken into over a hundred fragments. His account is the only surviving ancient source of information about the work and the location. (see The Lykosoura statue group
on the Demeter and Persephone page).
, Pausanias has been vindicated by the archaeology of the last two centuries, even if all the issues and uncertainties thrown up by their works have yet to be resolved. Art historians are particularly grateful to Pausanias for mentioning the names and works of several ancient Greek artists
, some otherwise unknown and many mentioned by other authors such as Pliny the Elder