In the early 1900's, after the retrieval of some extremely valuable finds (the hydriai of the Meidias painter) originally from clandestine excavations, archaeological research began and was concentrated in the area of the necropolises of San Cerbone and Casone. Immediately many tombs were uncovered dating from the Villanovan to the Hellenistic periods. Later, in the years 1914 - 1915 excavations were carried out also in the areas of the Piano and the Poggio delle Granate in the gulf of Baratti, and Poggio del Castello on the acropolis.

The history of the excavations is however closely tied to the industrial exploitation, between 1922 and 1959, of Etruscan iron slag which still contained a high percentage of metal ore. The massive operations to recover this ore, while permitting the discovery of most of the archaeological monuments of San Cerbone, Poggio Porcareccia, Poggio del Conchino and Poggio della Guardiola, also caused incalculable damage to this heritage. Many structures were irremediably damaged and numerous objects were stolen.

Since 1980 the "Sovrintendenza Archaeologica della Toscana" has carried out systematic excavations both on the acropolis, bringing to light a Hellenistic sanctuary, and around the city walls. Of particular interest has been the recovery of a wreck of the late Roman republic in the waters of the gulf of Baratti. Archaeological excavations were carried out in the area of the "Grotte" in 1997 as part of the project to create the Archaeological Park of Baratti and Populonia - these brought to light the ancient calcarenite quarry faces and some of the hypogean tombs of the Hellenistic period.