(Τίρυνς). A prehistoric citadel in the Argolic plain, about two and one-half miles north of Nauplia, and one mile from the sea. It occupies the summit of a low hill, about 980 feet long by 330 feet wide, and, in the southern half, 59 feet high above the surrounding plain, or 72 feet above sea level. Here, during a period probably not earlier than the fifteenth century B.C., nor later than the eleventh, was the stronghold of a powerful line of chieftains. Like Mycenae, Tiryns seems to have early fallen under the power of Argos, and in B.C. 468 it was annihilated by Argos, or at least reduced to absolute insignificance. Thorough excavations were carried on in the southern portion [p. 1587]
of the citadel by Dr. Schliemann and Dr. Drpfeld in 1884 and 1885. The walls of fortification were cleared, and within them the remains of an extensive palace were revealed. The lower (northern) portion of the citadel remains unexcavated.
The citadel-wall of Tiryns is the classic example of Cyclopian masonry of the most primitive type. It is built of huge, irregular blocks of lime[figure in text: Citadel of Tiryns.] stone, many of them eight to ten feet long, three feet thick, and three feet high. These blocks were not fitted to one another, but the interstices were filled with clay and with small stones. In places there is a distinct approach toward an arrangement in horizontal courses. The thickness of the wall at the bottom varies from 16 feet to 28 feet, except in two places, where it is greatly increased in order to receive a system of store-chambers. The height of the existing remains is in places upward of 25 feet. The original height can only be guessed; it has been estimated at 50 feet, on the average, measured outside. The citadel had one, and only one, great entrance. This was on the east side. A broad ramp, so placed that the unshielded side of an attacking force would be exposed to the missiles of the defenders above, led to an opening, without gates, in the wall. What defence existed within this opening to the north is not known. To the south the passage was barred by a strong gate, whose threshold and related posts are still in their places. On the opposite (western) side of the citadel was a postern gate, from which ascended a narrow, winding stairway to the back of the palace; there were also two small gate apertures in the northern part of the citadel. On the east side, at the south end, was a gallery in the wall which furnished the means of communication with a series of rectangular store-chambers. The method of roofing by pushing the successive courses of stones farther and farther inward till they meet, should be noted (compare the Treasury of Atreus at Mycenae). This system of chambers with communicating gallery is repeated in the south wall, and there are here remains of the stairway by which access was obtained from the summit of the citadel.
The palace was contemporaneous with the fortification just described. Its walls, not needing especial strength, were built, in their lower portions, of moderate-sized stones laid in clay mixed with straw, with occasional beams of wood laid lengthwise. In many places the upper portions, beginning about three feet from the ground, consisted of unbaked bricks; in two places the bricks begin from the ground. These walls were protected by a plaster consisting of an undercoat of clay and an outer coat of pure lime. The latter was decorated with paintings, of which many fragmentary specimens have been found. Another sort of wall-decoration was found in the vestibule of a hall, extending across the western wall at the bottom. This was an alabaster frieze, sculptured with an elaborate pattern of palmettes, rosettes, etc., and studded with pieces of blue glass, supposed to be the κύανος of Homer. The floors throughout the palace were made of pure lime or of lime mixed with small pebbles. Thresholds were of wood or stone. Columns and antae were of wood. It is not certain whether there was a second story over any part of the building. The ground-plan was as follows: Through a large propylaeum, one passed into an irregular open court, and thence through a second and smaller propylaeum into a rectangular open court (αὐλή) having a floor of lime and pebbles and enclosed on three sides by colonnades. North of this came what was obviously the most important part of the house, consisting of a vestibule, an antechamber, and a rectangular roofed hall (μέγαρον). In the centre of this hall was a circular hearth, and around the hearth stood four wooden columns supporting the ceiling. As for the outlying rooms, most of them cannot be precisely designated. One, however, a square chamber approached by a passageway starting from the west side of the antechamber of the men's hall, was certainly a bathroom. Its floor was one gigantic stone, estimated to weigh over twenty tons. A fragment of a terracotta bath-tub was found here.
The palace of Tiryns corresponds in many important respects with the type of house or palace [figure in text: Arch at Tiryns.] presupposed in the Homeric poems (see Domus). There are, however, some differences, of which the most important concerns the communication between the men's and the women's apartments. This, in the Homeric house, was direct and easy; at Tiryns it was long and circuitous. This and the other differences may be due to difference of locality and date. It must not be forgotten that the fortifications and palace of Tiryns are pre-Homeric. See Schliemann, Tiryns (London, 1886); Gardner, New Chapters in Greek History (London, 1892).