Archaeological site of Tylissos

A noteworthy Minoan town was unearthed in the early 20th century, on the site of present-day Tylissos, by the archaeologist Iosif Chatzidakis. It probably came into existence in the Prepalatial years, however it flourished during the Neopalatial period (1650-1450 BC) and the Postpalatial era (1450-1200 BC).

The Minoan centre of Tylissos most likely was dependent onthe palace complex of Knossos, and its purpose was to control the strategic area between Central and Western Crete. It possibly regulated the economic activity in the wealthy area of Malevizi and the extensive region of Psiloritis, the latter being well-known for its livestock farming, and the timber and wool production.

The town covered a fairly large area. Traces of houses of earlier periods can be seen scattered throughout the site. Three villas of this significant Minoan town were uncovered at the north of the present-day village. Their architecture is similar to that of Knossos, and it is even considered more impressive compared to some palatial buildings (of the palace complex of Malia, for instance). The archaeological finds that were brought to light in the area are also considered quite remarkable. Amongst others, three large cauldrons, which are regarded as unique in the whole of Aegean, and a bronze figurine, the largest and stylistically finest of its kind, were unearthed. These finds are indicative of the size and wealth of the town, as well as of the trading relationships it cultivated; they also strongly suggest that ancient Tylissos probably was an important bronze working centre.

The city continued to exist in the historical years;it even minted its own coins, on which Hera, Apollo or a hunter with a bow and the head of a wild goat, were represented. 

The largest of the three Minoan villas in Tylissos is House A; it was two-storied and had a monumental entrance with two pillars, a room with pier-and-door partitions, paved floors, a room with a pillar, a lustral basin, galleries and storerooms. Clay Linear A tablets and a copper ingot were found in the archive room of House A, among other artefacts.

House Cmost likely also looked quite majestic, while House B was probably used for storage, or it may have housed administrative functions. On the site of House C, a megaron of the Mycenaean type was raised in the Postpalatial period. 

A paved courtyard, a street, and a section of an aqueduct with clay pipes, were unearthed west of House C. Remains of buildings at the north and the north-west of House C also include an altar. Relics of other houses are located east of House A.

Postpalatial chamber tombs with painted larnakes (clay coffins), as well as beautiful clay vessels and other artefacts were unearthed around the current village.

Τhe cave of Trapeza, which is located west of Tylissos, was a place of worship during the Minoan years. A peak sanctuary was also discovered on a hill known as Korfi tou Pirgou (= top of the tower).

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Additional Info

  • location Tilissos, Malevizi, Heraklio
  • type Ancient City/Town
  • time period Minoan Era
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Visiting hours/info

Tuesday-Sunday: 08:00-15:00

Tel.: (+30) 2810 831498, (+30) 2810 279200

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