Tiryns /ˈtɪrɪnz/ or /ˈtaɪrɪnz/ (Ancient Greek: Τίρυνς;
Modern Greek: Τίρυνθα) is a Mycenaean archaeological site in
Argolis in the Peloponnese, some kilometres north of Nafplio.
Tiryns was a hill fort with occupation ranging back seven thousand
years, from before the beginning of the Bronze Age. It reached its
height between 1400 and 1200 BCE, when it was one of the most
important centers of the Mycenaean world, and in particular in
Argolis. Its most notable features were its palace, its cyclopean
tunnels and especially its walls, which gave the city its Homeric
epithet of "mighty walled Tiryns". In ancient times, the city was
linked to the myths surrounding Heracles, with some sources citing it
as his birthplace.
The famous megaron of the palace of
Tiryns has a large reception hall,
the main room of which had a throne placed against the right wall and
a central hearth bordered by four Minoan-style wooden columns that
served as supports for the roof. Two of the three walls of the megaron
were incorporated into an archaic temple of Hera.
The site went into decline at the end of the Mycenaean period, and was
completely deserted by the time Pausanias visited in the 2nd century
CE. This site was excavated by
Heinrich Schliemann in 1884-1885, and
is the subject of ongoing excavations by the German Archaeological
Institute at Athens and the University of Heidelberg. In 1300 BCE the
citadel and lower town had a population of 10,000 people covering
20-25 hectares. Despite the destruction of the palace in 1200 BCE the
city population continued the increase and by 1150 BCE it had a
population of 15,000 people.
Tiryns was recognized as one of the World Heritage Sites in 1999.
4 Archaeological site
5 See also
7 External links
Tiryns is first referenced by Homer who praised its massive walls.
Ancient tradition held that the walls were built by the cyclopes
because only giants of superhuman strength could have lifted the
enormous stones. After viewing the walls of the ruined citadel in the
2nd century CE, the geographer Pausanias wrote that two mules pulling
together could not move even the smaller stones.
Tradition also associates the walls with Proetus, the sibling of
Acrisius, king of Argos. According to the legend Proetus, pursued by
his brother, fled to Lycia. With the help of the Lycians, he managed
to return to Argolis. There,
Tiryns and fortified it
with the assistance of the cyclopes.
Thus Greek legend links the three Argolic centers with three mythical
heroes: Acrisius, founder of the Doric colony of Argos; his brother
Proetus, founder of Tiryns; and his grandson Perseus, the founder of
Mycenae. But this tradition was born at the beginning of the
historical period, when
Argos was fighting to become the hegemonic
power in the area and needed a glorious past to compete with the other
The area has been inhabited since prehistoric times. A lesser
neolithic settlement was followed, in the middle of the 3rd millennium
BCE, by a flourishing early pre-Hellenic settlement located about
15 km southeast of Mycenae, on a hill 300 m long, 45–100
m wide, and no more than 18 meters high. From this period
survived under the yard of a Mycenaean palace, an imposing circular
structure 28 meters in diameter, which appears to be a fortified
place of refuge for the city's inhabitants in time of war, and/or a
residence of a king. Its base was powerful, and was constructed from
two concentric stone walls, among which there were others
cross-cutting, so that the thickness reached 45 m.
The superstructure was clay and the roof was made from fire-baked
tiles. The first Greek inhabitants, the creators of the Middle
Helladic civilization and the
Mycenaean civilization after that,
Tiryns at the beginning of the Middle period (2000-1600 BCE)
though the city underwent its greatest growth during the Mycenaean
period. The Acropolis was constructed in three phases, the first at
the end of the
Late Helladic II period (1500-1400 BCE), the second in
Late-Helladic III (1400-1300 BCE) and the third at the end of the
Late-Helladic III B (1300-1200 BCE). The surviving ruins of the
Mycenaean citadel date to the end of the third period. The city proper
surrounded the acropolis on the plain below.
The disaster that struck the Mycenaean centers at the end of the
Bronze Age affected Tiryns, but it is certain that the area of the
palace was inhabited continuously until the middle of the 8th century
BCE (a little later a temple was built in the ruins of the palace).
At the beginning of the classical period Tiryns, like Mycenae, became
a relatively insignificant city. When
Cleomenis I of
the Argives, their slaves occupied
Tiryns for many years, according to
Herodotus also mentions that
Tiryns took part in the
Battle of Plataea
Battle of Plataea in 480 BCE with 400 hoplites.
Even in decline,
Mycenae and Tyrins were disturbing to the Argives,
who in their political propaganda wanted to monopolize the glory of
legendary (and mythical) ancestors. In 468 BCE
Mycenae and Tiryns, and transferred -
according to Pausanias - the residents to Argos, to increase the
population of the city. However,
Strabo says that many Tirynthians
moved to found the city of Halieis, modern Porto Heli.
Despite its importance, little value was given to Tiryns, its mythical
rulers and traditions, by epics and drama. Pausanias dedicated a short
piece (2.25.8) to Tiryns, and newer travelers, traveling to
search of places where the heroes of the ancient texts lived, did not
understand the significance of the city.
The Acropolis was first excavated by the German scholar Friedrich
Thiersch in 1831. In 1876,
Heinrich Schliemann considered the palace
Tiryns to be medieval so he came very close to destroying the
remains to excavate deeper for Mycenaean treasures. However, the next
period of excavation was under Wilhelm Dörpfeld, a director of the
German Archaeological Institute; this time, the ruins were estimated
The excavations were repeated later by Dörpfeld with the cooperation
of other German archaeologists, who continued his work until 1938.
World War II
World War II (1939–1945), the work was continued by the
Institute and the Greek Archaeological Service.
Fresco with a representation of a wild boar hunt. From the later
The walls extend to the entire area of the top of the hill. Their
bases survive throughout all of their length, and their height in some
places reaching 7 meters, slightly below the original height, which is
estimated at 9,10 m. The walls are quite thick, usually 6 meters,
while at the points that are opened the famous tunnels up to 17 m. A
strong transverse wall separates the acropolis into two sections -the
south includes the palatial buildings, while the northern protects
only the top of the hill area. In this second section, which dates to
the end of the Mycenaean era, small gates and many tunnels
occasionally open, covered with a triangular roof, which served as a
refuge for the inhabitants of the lower city in times of danger.
The entrance of the citadel has always been on the east side, but had
a different position and form in each of the three construction
phases. In the second phase the gate had the form of the
Lion Gate of
Mycenae. Left there was a tower and to the right was the arm of the
wall, so the gate was well protected, since the attackers were forced
to cross a very narrow corridor, while the defense could hit them from
above and from both sides. In the third phase the gate was moved
further out. The palace of the king, inside the citadel, similar to
that of Mycenae, dimensions 11.80 x 9.80 m, consists of three areas:
the outer portico with the two columns, the prodomos (anteroom) and
Domos (main room) with the cyclical fireplace that was surrounded
by 4 wooden columns. The lateral compartments of the palace seems to
have a second floor.
Rich was the decoration of the walls of the outer arcade. They had a
zone at the bottom of alabaster slabs with relief rosettes and
flowers. The rest was decorated with frescos. Three doors lead to
prodomos and then another to Domos. In the middle of the eastern wall
is visible in the floor the place that corresponded to the royal
throne. The floor was richly decorated with different themes in the
area around the walls and the space between the columns of the
fireplace. Of course, here the walls were decorated with paintings.
In the ruins of the mansion, which burned during the 8th century BCE,
a Doric temple was built during the Geometrical period. Smaller than
the mansion, it consisted of two parts, the prodomos and the cella.
The width of the temple was just greater than half that of the
mansion, while the back wall of the temple reached the height of the
rear columns of the fireplace. Three springs fed into the compound,
one in the western side of the large courtyard which could be accessed
by a secret entrance, and two at the end of north side of the wall,
accessed via two tunnels in the wall. These and similar such
structures found in other shelters are witnesses to the care which was
taken here, as in other Mycenaean acropolises, to the basic problem of
water access in a time of siege.
National Archaeological Museum of Athens
^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2002-08-07. Retrieved
^ Yasur-Landau, Assaf (16 June 2014). "The Philistines and Aegean
Migration at the End of the Late Bronze Age". Cambridge University
Press – via Google Books.
^ Centre, UNESCO World Heritage. "Archaeological Sites of
^ Ring, Trudy; Salkin, Robert M.; Boda, Sharon La (1 January 1994).
"International Dictionary of Historic Places: Southern Europe". Taylor
& Francis – via Google Books.
Homer - Iliad rhapsody B, 559
^ Pausanias Description of
Greece - about Boeotia 9.36.5
^ Pausanias Description of
Greece - about Corinth 2.25.8
Herodotus Book 6, 83
Herodotus Book 9, 28
Strabo 8, 373
^ Halieis history
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