3.2.15

Tiryns

Tiryns /ˈtɪrɨnz/ or /ˈtaɪrɨnz/ (Ancient Greek: Τίρυνς; Modern Greek: Τίρυνθα) is a Mycenaean archaeological site in Argolis in the Peloponnese, some kilometres north of Nauplion.
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 BC, 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 AD. 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 BC the citadel and lower town had a population of 10,000 people covering 20-25 hectares. Despite the destruction of the palace in 1200 BC the city population continued the increase and by 1150 BC the population were 15,000 people.
Tiryns was recognized as one of the World Heritage Sites in 1999.

Description 
On the edge of the Argolic gulf, at a short distance from Nauplion, the Acropolis of Tiryns rises impressively on a rocky hill (16 m). The earliest human occupation on the hill goes back to the Neolithic period (about 5000 B.C.). It was followed by successive settlements but their remains have been destroyed almost completely by the extensive construction arrangement of the Mycenaean age. Enough evidence survived from the settlement of the Early Bronze Age (2500-2000 B.C.) to prove the existence then of a series of apsidal houses arranged around a huge circular building (diam. 28 m) on the summit of the hill.
Fresco with a representation of a wild boar hunt. From the later Tiryns palace.

The building of the fortification of the hill began during the 14th century B.C. and was completed at the end of the 13th century (Late Helladic IIIB period). The Cyclopaean walls which surround the Upper, Middle and Lower Citadel, have a total perimeter of approximately 750 m and a width between 4,50 and 7 m. Within the walls were planned the wall-painted palace, the remaining public spaces, the cyclopaean tunnels leading to the storehouses and the workshops. The town, divided into blockhouses, extended outside the walls and around the Acropolis (about 750 acres).
 After the disintegration of the palatial system (about 1200 B.C.), the Acropolis continued to be used mostly as a cult place. The site had been deserted when Pausanias visited it during the 2d century A.D.
The archaeological investigations of the ancient Tiryns are tightly linked with the name of Heinrich Schliemann who in 1876 opened the first trenches in the Acropolis and the site outside the walls. In 1884/5, during five months of extensive excavations, he uncovered, with his valuable assistant, W. Doepfeld, part of the Upper Citadel. Between 1905 and 1920, the investigations were resumed by the German Archaeological Institute on the Acropolis and its wider surrounding area. At the end of the '50's, excavations in the area were undertaken under the supervision of the Ephore of Antiquities, N. Verdelis. From 1967 onwards, the German Archaeological Institute returned to the site and with further extensive excavations, directed by Ulf Jantzen and Klaus Kilian, the whole of the Upper and the Lower Citadel, part of the mycenaean town in the wider area around the walls, as well as part of the Iron Age Cemetery were uncovered.
The finds from the excavation of Tiryns are exhibited in the National Archaeological Museum and the Archaeological Museum of Nauplio.

History
The earliest human occupation on the hill goes back to the Neolithic period (about 5000 B.C.). It was followed by successive settlements but their remains have been destroyed almost completely by the extensive construction arrangement of the Mycenaean age. Enough evidence survived from the settlement of the Early Bronze Age (2500-2000 B.C.) to prove the existence then of a series of apsidal houses arranged around a very huge circular building (diam. 28 m) on the summit of the hill.
The building of the fortification of the hill began during the 14th century B.C. and was completed at the end of the 13th century (Late Helladic IIIB period). The Cyclopaean walls which surround the Upper, Middle and Lower Citadel, have a total perimeter of approximately 750 m and a width between 4,50 and 7 m. Within the walls were planned the wall-painted palace, the remaining public spaces, the cyclopaean tunnels leading to the storehouses and the workshops. The town divided into blockhouses extended outside the walls and around the Acropolis (about 750 acres).

After the disintegration of the palatial system (about 1200 B.C.), the Acropolis continued to be used mostly as a cult place. The site had become deserted when Pausanias visited it during the 2d century A.D.





Site Monuments
The Great Gate
 The entrance to the Acropolis of Tiryns consists of a large gateway. The size of this, together with the method of construction, have led archaeologists to suggest it was built at the same time and by the same architect who built the Lion Gate at Mycenae.
Unfortunately much of the stonework has not survived, but you can still get a good impression of the scale of the gateway from the remaining supports. From the marks in the stone, it has been calculated that the wooden door which hung in the gateway was about 15cms (6 inches) thick.
The ramparts of Tiryns are very impressive. They are 7 - 10m wide (23 - 33 feet) and in some places are 7.5m (25 feet) high.
 The Eastern Casemates

The Palace area
The door to the palace area had a large stone threshold. There are holes for the door hinges, and marks where the socket for the wooden bar which would have held the door closed.
In the area known as the East Casemates you'll find a narrow gallery, about 30m (99 feet) long. It has a vaulted roof, and was built within the width of the ramparts. Leading off the gallery are six rooms (casemates) which are thought to have been used as stores or barrack rooms.
It's not easy to make out the site of the Great Propylaia, but archaeologists think it's important because the Propylaia on the Acropolis at Athens was designed on the same lines. The Propylaia leads into the great court of the palace. From there you go down a staircase to the South Casemates which are similar to those in the east of the site.

The Megaron
The Megaron at Tiryns is the best preserved of all the palaces. It's portico had two columns and the walls were decorated with seven slabs of alabaster. These were decorated with reliefs of rosettes and lapis lazuli.
The Megaron itself was the most important room in the palace. As at Mycenae, there was a central hearth with four pillars to support the roof. The floor was plastered, and decorated with painted squares which imitated carpets. Designs included sea creatures such as octopus and dolphins. The walls were covered with paintings of hunting, ladies on a wagon drawn by horses, courtly ladies dressed in rich clothes, and wild animals. The dominant scene was that of a royal hunt.

The circle edifice of the Early-Helladic period.

Cyclopean Walls

Sources / Bibliography / Photos

J.M. Klessing
http://www.gtp.gr
Dr. Alkistis Papadimitriou
http://galleryhip.com
http://odysseus.culture.gr
http://www.mythicalpeloponnese.gr
http://www.wikipedia.org/
http://homepage.mac.com/cparada/GML/Tiryns.html
http://books.google.dk/books?id=9DBeI_KhYFQC&pg=PA111&lpg=PA111&dq=Tiryns+20+hectares&source=bl&ots=sIQEWtSk9_&sig=eg3OToJII7pk_dc21iZgzErzh3s&hl=da&sa=X&ei=WCa8UoKIEcnOtAaitYHICA&ved=0CFIQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=Tiryns%2020%20hectares&f=false
http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/941
http://books.google.dk/books?id=74JI2UlcU8AC&pg=PA706&lpg=PA706&dq=tiryns+had+15,000+people&source=bl&ots=juwMdxvVHI&sig=Bee6LpJ3QOadXrxgUPbBZYfHE5Y&hl=da&sa=X&ei=jK0hU_p_g9C0BqzTgIgG&ved=0CFIQ6AEwCQ#v=onepage&q=tiryns%20had%2015%2C000%20people&f=false
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
http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http://www.geocities.com/btse1/halieishhistory.htm&date=2009-10-25+16:41:40 - Halieis history

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