Tiryns (Greek Τίρυνθα "Tíryntha"), ancient city in the Peloponnese about 4.3 miles southeast of Argos. The place was populated from the Neolithic age to the 2nd century A.D., and was a complete ruin when first excavated by the German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann in 1884-85. It's most famous role was in the Bronze Age, when it was one of the most important cities in ancient Greece, the subject of legends concerning Hercules, the cyclops and its own connections to the Trojan War. Currently the ruins are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Tiryns was founded according to legend by Proetos, who captured the location after a battle with his brother, King Acrisios of Argos. The walls - the "Tiryns of the mighty walls" mentioned in Homer's Illiad were built by the Cyclops, as only a race of giants could move the size of the stones placed within the walls. The Greek hero Perseus is said to have ruled the city, while Bellerophon, the slayer of the chimera and rider of Pegasus, was driven out by Proetus because, according to Homer, he was simply a better man. Here also Herakles (Hercules) is said to have served King Eurystheus, performing the famous twelve labors.
The ruins are in an oblong shape, about 984 feet long and 131 to 328 feet wide, and constructed in three sections on a limestone rock outcropping up to 98 feet high. This citadel was further supported by a lower city on the surrounding plain. The remains of an imposing circular structure on the citadel surrounded by other buildings of the same period have shown that an important community was established on the hill in the early Bronze Age; the remains date back to the Helladic II period (ca. 2500-2200 B.C.), but Tiryns seems to have been occupied during Helladic II as well as during the Middle Helladic (2000/1900–1550 B.C.) that followed.
During the Mycenaean period (ca. 1600-1050 B.C.) Tiryns was one of the most important centers of Cretan-Mycenaean culture, along with Mycenae, Thebes, Pylos and Knossos. It was during this period that the site acquired a palace (ca. 1350 B.C.) and thus affirmed its power by its importance.
The ancient splendor of the city bears witness to the well-preserved ruins of a royal residence on the upper part, whose walls were decorated with precious frescoes, as well as the remains of the Cyclopean construction compound. The stones of the ramparts were ten feet long and over three feet thick, and were placed without the use of any binder or mortar; the enclosure had walls 26 feet thick and 59 feet high. The wall around the high citadel was built in several stages, from 14th to the middle of the 13th centuries B.C., ending with the completion of the lower walls and the integration of the cisterns.
Despite their indestructible appearance, the fortifications of Tiryns were destroyed by a fire in the early 12th century B.C. Archaeologists blamed it for a major earthquake, the effect of which has also been observed in other parts of Argolis. The damage on the wall was subsequently repaired and the upper town rebuilt.
The upper palace was partially redone: a new building was built in the ruins of the old palace and inhabited by the rulers. After the disaster, the city seems to have been systematically developed. This finding contradicts the depopulation of other Mycenaean centers during the 12th century B.C.
Between 1876 and 1885 excavations were carried out by Schliemann. He was able to uncover on the highest part of the rock the so-called upper castle, a Mycenaean palace. The later excavations between 1905 and 1929 were carried out under the direction of Wilhelm Dörpfeld, Kurt Müller and Georg Karo, giving further conclusions on the once outstanding importance of the city in ancient times. Since 1976, Tiryns has been systematically researched by German archaeologists, until 1986 under the direction of Klaus Kilian, later under the direction of other researchers from the University of Heidelberg and the German Archaeological Institute. As of 2017 Joseph Maran leads the research projects in Tiryns.