The site of Tylisos was fist inhabited in 2000 B.C. However, for this older period, only movable finds have survived: whole and restored vases and potsherds of fine-ware which belong to the typical ceramic styles before and after 2000 B.C. Building remains have not survived, so we do not know the character and extent of the settlement, which must have been one of the most important at that time. It is more likely that the building was reused in the new mansions which were rebuilt on the same sites three centuries later. We are given interesting information about the history of the Tylisos area during the Old Palatial period (1900-1700), by the finds from the sanctuaries on the mountain Pyrgos, west of Tylisos.
TYLISOS IN THE ARCHAEOLOGY AND HISTORY OF CRETE
Few cities and place-names in Crete and, indeed Greece, retain their ancient names unchanged throughout forty centuries, while being inhabited even today. In Crete: Knossos, Archanes, Sitia, lerapetra, Kisamos, Tylisos and others, retain their ancient names and are still inhabited today without interruption from very ancient times.
The certainty that we talk about ancient Tylisos and not another ancient city, is based on the simultaneous investigation of its ruins, inscriptions and coins where its name is mentioned.. The name of the city of Tylisos was first written 3.400 years ago, in the capital city of Crete, Knossos with which Tylisos had kept preferential and very close relations.
Tylisos flourished for two periods during the Minoan era: the first period covered the time of the new or second palaces (1650-1450). The three large mansions which have been excavated belong to this period. The second period covered the late or third palatial era (1450-1200). The big building which was unfortunately preserved in fragments over the ruins of the northern earlier mansion C and also the big portico, date to this era.
In the years following the Minoan era, Tylisos continued to be inhabited without interruption. These later ruins were rescued mainly on the top of the low hill between the excavated mansions and the guardhouse.
The ancient writers inform us about Tylisos in the historical times, as we call the post-Minoan years. The Roman historians Plinius (1st century A.D.) and Solinus (3rd century A.D.) have changed it to Gilisos. They refer to it as one of the most important cities of the island and they rank it alongside Knossos, Gortyn and Kydonia. Of great importance for the history of the city is the evidence from inscriptions. From these inscriptions we learn about its close contact with Knossos and Argos, with other cities of Crete and Greece, as well as many names of Tylisian citizens. The most ancient inscription where Tylisos is mentioned dates to circa 450 B. C.
Tylisos is usually mentioned originally as an autonomous city, which later, from the 1st till the 4th century A. D. was subject to its great neighbor Knossos, like the neighboring Rafkos (modern village of Agios Myron). Besides Hera and Apollo, who are depicted on the coins of the city, Athena was also worshipped. The annual feast of Tylisos was Hyakinthia and its sacred month was the Heraios. The coins of Tylisos in the 4th and 3rd century depict on the one side the head of Hera in profile to the right. The goddess Hera is rarely depicted in coins of cities in Crete and is found only on coins of Knossos and other cities near it, where she enjoyed a great respect.
The goddess is crowned with a palm wreath and wears earrings and necklace. On the opposite side Apollo is depicted nude, walking to the left and holding a bow in his right hand and a wild goat head in his left. In front of the god there is a small laurel tree and the inscription ‘Tylision’.
In the Venetian records Tylisos was called Telese in the province (castelania) of Malevizi. It is mentioned in the provisions which the Providatore General Jacomo Foscarini issued (after 1550) in an attempt to restructure and modernize the old feudal system. In this way he granted some privileges to the villagers (vilani).
In Tylisos the feudal landowners forced the vilani to carry their grapes to the feudal lords winepresses to press them there. But, on purpose the grapes were not well pressed and some quantity of the wine was left to the owner of the wine-press. To eliminate this, the vilani were allowed to choose the wine press they wanted.
During the Turkish occupation the village is mentioned as ‘Tiliso’ in the census. In Turkish files of Chandax, many cases of Tylisian inhabitants are reported.
In other documents from the same archives, one can find islamisations in Tylisos as well as an approval granted for the renovation of the church of Agios Nicholas. From other documents we learn some place-names of the Tylisos area: Rouses, Kefala, Lagoufi, Gerani, Spargia, Lakkos, Ammoudares and Agios Mamas.
During the Greek Freedom Struggle in 1822, Hassan Pasha camped in the area of Tylisos. Later in 1867, the battle of Tylisos was conducted there.The united chieftains Korakas, Petropoulakis and Koroneos stopped the advance of Resit Pasha towards the west Crete.
In the Egyptian Occupation of Crete, Tylisos appears to have 90 Greek and 10 Turkish families. During the 19th century Tylisos was the homeland of the famous general Zervoudakis and the teacher Perdikaris, founder of the Lyceum Korais in Iraklion.
In 1881, Tylisos was the seat of one of the three municipalities (dimoi) of the Malevizi province (the others were Krousonas and Agios Myron) and included the villages: Tylisos, Moni, Gonies, Keramoutsi, Kamari, Rogdia, Achlada, Kavrochori and Gazi, with a population of 2600 inhabitants.
Five hundred and sixty of them were Muslims and lived mostly in Gazi, Keramoutsi, Kamari and Tylisos.There were only 63 literate people, 46 of which were Christians and 17 were Muslims, while the illiterate included 1979 Christians and 544 Muslims. The Monastery of Sabbathiana was also included in the municipality of Tylisos with 8 monks.