Kaunos (Carian: Kbid;Lycian: Khbide; Ancient Greek: Καῦνος; Latin: Caunus) was a city of ancient Caria and in Anatolia, a few kilometres west of the modern town of Dalyan, Muğla Province, Turkey.

The Calbys river (now known as the Dalyan river) was the border between Caria and Lycia. Initially Kaunos was a separate state; then it became a part of Caria and later still of Lycia.

Kaunos was an important sea port, the history of which is supposed to date back to the 10th century BC. Because of the formation of İztuzu Beach and the silting of the former Bay of Dalyan (from approx. 200 BC onwards), Kaunos is now located about 8 km from the coast. The city had two ports, the southern port at the southeast of Küçük Kale and the inner port at its northwest (the present Sülüklü Göl...Read more

Kaunos (Carian: Kbid;Lycian: Khbide; Ancient Greek: Καῦνος; Latin: Caunus) was a city of ancient Caria and in Anatolia, a few kilometres west of the modern town of Dalyan, Muğla Province, Turkey.

The Calbys river (now known as the Dalyan river) was the border between Caria and Lycia. Initially Kaunos was a separate state; then it became a part of Caria and later still of Lycia.

Kaunos was an important sea port, the history of which is supposed to date back to the 10th century BC. Because of the formation of İztuzu Beach and the silting of the former Bay of Dalyan (from approx. 200 BC onwards), Kaunos is now located about 8 km from the coast. The city had two ports, the southern port at the southeast of Küçük Kale and the inner port at its northwest (the present Sülüklü Göl, Lake of the Leeches). The southern port was used from the foundation of the city till roughly the end of the Hellenistic era, after which it became inaccessible due to its drying out. The inner or trade port could be closed by chains. The latter was used till the late days of Kaunos, but due to the silting of the delta and the ports, Kaunos had by then long lost its important function as a trade port. After the capture of Caria by Turkish tribes, and the serious malaria epidemic of the 15th century AD, Kaunos was completely abandoned.

In 1966, Prof. Baki Öğün started the excavations of ancient Kaunos. These have been continued up to the present day, and are now supervised by Prof. Cengiz Işık.

The archeological research is not limited to Kaunos itself, but is also carried out in locations nearby e.g. near the Sultaniye Spa where there used to be a sanctuary devoted to the goddess Leto.

The oldest find at the Kaunos archeological site is the neck of a Protogeometric amphora dating back to the 9th century BC, or even earlier. A statue found at the western gate of the city walls, pieces of imported Attic ceramics and the S-SE oriented city walls show habitation in the 6th century BC. However, none of the architectural finds at Kaunos itself dates back to earlier than the 4th century BC.

First Persian rule  Coinage of Kaunos at the time of tyrant Pisindelis. Circa 470-450 BC.

Kaunos is first referred to by Herodotus in his book Histories. He narrates that the Persian general Harpagus marches against the Lycians, Carians and Kaunians during the Persian invasion of 546 BCE.[1] Herodotus writes that the Kaunians fiercely countered Harpagus' attacks but were ultimately defeated.[2] Despite the fact that the Kaunians themselves said they originated from Crete,.[3] He thought it was far more likely that the Kaunians were the original inhabitants of the area because of the similarity between his own Carian language and that of the Kaunians. He added that there were, however, great differences between the lifestyles of the Kaunians and those of their neighbours, the Carians and Lycians. One of the most conspicuous differences being their social drinking behaviour. It was common practice that the villagers -men, women and children alike- had get-togethers over a good glass of wine.[3]

Herodotus mentions that Kaunos participated in the Ionian Revolt (499–494 BCE).[4]

Some important inscriptions in Carian language were found here, dating to c. 400 BC, including a bilingual inscription in Greek and Carian found in 1996. They helped to decipher the Carian alphabets.[5]

 Kaunos rock graves.Greek influences

After Xerxes I was beaten in the Second Persian War and the Persians were gradually withdrawn from the western Anatolian coast, Kaunos joined the Delian League. Initially they only had to pay 1 talent of tax, an amount that was raised by factor 10 in 425 BC. This indicates that by then the city had developed into a thriving port, possibly due to increased agriculture and the demand for Kaunian export articles, such as salt, salted fish, slaves, pine resin and black mastic – the raw materials for tar used in boat building and repair [6]– and dried figs. During the 5th and 4th centuries BC the city started to use the name Kaunos as an alternative for its ancient name Kbid, because of the increased Hellenistic influence. The myth about the foundation of the city probably dates back to this period.

Second Persian rule

After the Peace of Antalcidas in 387 BC, Kaunos again came under Persian rule. During the period that Kaunos was annexed and added to the province of Caria by the Persian rulers, the city was drastically changed. This was particularly the case during the reign of the satrap Mausolos (377–353 BC). The city was enlarged, was modeled with terraces and walled over a huge area. The city gradually got a Greek character, with an agora and temples dedicated to Greek deities. Alexander the Great's 334 BC brought the city under the rule of the Macedonian empire.

Hellenistic period and Roman rule  Roman baths Theatre

After Alexander's death, Kaunos, due to its strategic location, was disputed among the Diadochi, changing hands between the Antigonids, Ptolemies, and Seleucids.

Because of differences between the Hellenistic kingdoms, the Roman Republic was able to expand its influence in the area and annex a considerable number of Hellenistic kingdoms. In 189 BC the Roman senate put Kaunos under the jurisdiction of Rhodes. At that time it was known as the Rhodian Peraia.

In 167 BC this led to a revolt by Kaunos and a number of other cities in western Anatolia against Rhodes. As a result, Rome discharged Rhodes from its task. In 129 BC the Romans established the Province of Asia, which covered a large part of western Anatolia. Kaunos was near the edge of this province and was assigned to Lycia.

In 88 BC Mithridates invaded the province, trying to curb further expansion by the Romans. The Kaunians teamed up with him and killed all the Roman inhabitants of their city. After the peace of 85 BC they were punished for this action by the Romans, who again put Kaunos under Rhodian administration. During Roman rule Kaunos became a prospering sea port. The amphitheater of the city was enlarged and Roman baths and a palaestra were built. The agora fountain was renovated and new temples arose.

Byzantine era  Mosaics next to the domed Byzantine basilica

Kaunos was christianized at an early date and when the Roman Empire officially adopted the Christian faith, its name changed into Caunos-Hegia.

Decline of Kaunos

From 625 AD onwards Kaunos was faced with attacks by Muslim Arabs and pirates. The 13th century brought invasions by Turkish tribes. Consequently, the old castle on the acropolis was fortified with walls, giving it a typical medieval appearance. In the 14th century the Turkish tribes had conquered part of Caria, which resulted in a dramatic decrease in sea trade.

The resulting economic slump caused many Kaunians to move elsewhere. In the 15th century the Turks captured the entire area north of Caria and Kaunos was hit by a malaria epidemic. This caused the city to be abandoned. The ancient city was badly devastated in an earthquake and gradually got covered with sand and a dense vegetation. The city was forgotten until Richard Hoskyn, a Royal Navy surveyor found a law tablet, referring to the Council of Kaunos and the inhabitants of this city. Hoskyn visited the ruins in 1840 and published his account in 1842,[7] making knowledge of the ancient city once more available.[8]

^ Herodotus I.171 ^ Herodotus I.176 ^ a b Herodotus I.172 ^ Herodotus V.103 ^ Ignacio-Javier Adiego Lajara, The Carian Language. Volume 86 of Handbook of Oriental Studies. BRILL, 2006 ISBN 9004152814 p3 ^ Ancient Caria: In the garden of the sun, CANAN KÜÇÜKEREN, Hürriyet Daily News, 28 March 2011 ^ Hoskyn, Rd. (1842). "Narrative of a Survey of Part of the South Coast of Asia Minor; And of a Tour into the Interior of Lycia in 1840-1; Accompunied by a Map". Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London. 12: 143–161. doi:10.2307/1797993. ISSN 0266-6235. JSTOR 1797993. ^ Cite error: The named reference ReferenceA was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
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