Kaunos (Carian: Kbid; Lycian: Khbide; Ancient Greek: Καῦνος; Latin: Caunus) was a city of ancient Caria and in Anatolia, a few km 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.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.

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


Caria"steep country"; Ancient Greek: Καρία, Karia, Turkish: Karya) was a region of western Anatolia extending along the coast from mid-Ionia (Mycale) south to Lycia and east to Phrygia. The Ionian and Dorian Greeks colonized the west of it and joined the Carian population in forming Greek-dominated states there. The eponymous inhabitants of Caria were known as Carians, and  described by Herodotos as being of Minoan descent, Kaunos was a city of ancient Caria.

Kaunos is a greek name "Καύνος" The city name is a name used by Cretans for other places too. "Καύνος, η (ή Καύδος). Το νησί Γαύδος."

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 BC.
Kaunians themselves said they originated from Crete.

After Xerxes I was beaten in the Second Persian War and the Persians were gradually withdrawn from the western Anatolian coast, Kaunos joined the Delian League.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 – 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.

After the King's 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 v. Chr.). 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.

In the 4th century BC Kaunos released among with entire Caria by Alexander the Great.When Alexander the Great entered Caria in 334 BC, Ada, who was in possession of the fortress of Alinda, surrendered the fortress to him. After taking Halicarnassus (modern Bodrum), Alexander committed the government of Caria to her; she, in turn, formally adopted Alexander as her son, ensuring that the rule of Caria passed unconditionally to him upon her eventual death; Ada's popularity with the populace in turn ensured the Carians' loyalty to Alexander.
Kaunos was christianized at an early date and when the Roman Empire officially adopted the Christian faith, its name changed into Caunos-Hegia. Bishops are known beginning from the 4th century. Four bishops are mentioned by Lequien (I, 981): Basil, who attended the Council of Seleucia in 359; Antipater, who attended the Council of Chalcedon in 451; Nicolaus, who subscribed the letter to Emperor Leo in 458; and Stephanus, who attended the Council of Nicaea in 787. The Synecdemus of Hierocles and most Notitiae Episcopatuum, as late as the 12th or 13th century, place it in Lycia, as a suffragan of Myra. 


The existence of Kaunos had known by the scholars but its location was a mystery until English archaeologist Hoskyn discovered it in 1842. Swedish archaeologist P. Roos defined the independent state boundaries of Kaunos as follows: “Starting from the Fethiye Bay at the north and Ancient City of Krya at the north of the bay; extending till Tlos at the 35 km east of Fethiye, Idyma at Gokova Bay at the west and Çamkoy located in the west of Urla which is little forward to north.” In today’s context, the coastal area starting from the south plains of Mugla and extending till the mountains between Mugla and Antalya was under the sovereignty of Kaunos. Kaunos has kept this borders until the 4th century BC but then lost its statue of sovereign state after the Persian invasion. It was one of two cities resisting against Persian invasion (other is Xanthos) such that they paid high taxes to prevailing states many times in order to keep their independency as a port city.

The finding and remains in Kaunos reveal the prosperity of the city as a great power of its time and that it was a sovereign state which minted on its behalf. The coins printed in this region especially in the first half of the 5th century BC are of great importance since a winged figure is displayed on the front side while pyramidal formed monoliths on the back. Besides, letters of K and B found on the coins are important due to they are the first two letters of the first name of Kaunos, Kbid. 

City walls of Kaunos reaching wideness of 4 m in places are structured by intertwining sculpted stones without any mortar. Considering the steep topography of the area they were built, it is still a mystery how the stones are carried to so high and steep mountain and which technology was used.

In Kaunos, we witness fine examples of Hellenistic architecture and building technology in the city walls. The regularly-shaped rectangular blocks and the way the blocks have been positioned give a fine impression of Hellenistic building techniques in the construction of city walls.

Rock-cut tombs worked on the limestone steep façade of Baliklar Mountain are grouped in seven different areas in the direction of southwest. The most significant ones among 167 tombs are the Temple-Faceted ones. Rock-cut tombs in Kaunos are differed from others with its unique façade typology representing façade architecture seen in Hellen Temples. Tombs in this typology of this period are seen only in Kaunos and its hinterland which reveals its uniqueness to Kaunos. That’s why; this type of tombs is named as “Kaunosian Style Rock-Cut Tombs”.

The Great Church, presumably built in the 5th century BC or later on the right side of the road from city entrance to the theatre, is the one and only domed church in Anatolia found until today.
The only example of a Periaktos, the rotary curtain system in ancient theatres meaning “turning around its own axis”, has been unearthed in Kaunos Theatre. The architectural remains unearthed on the basement of this system exhibit traces as much that it can be rebuilt appropriately to its original design.

Site Monuments

The city was constructed on terraces; significant religious structures like Baselius Kaunios Temple, Apollon Sanctuary and Demeter Sacred Rocks on one side and Bath, Theatre and other structures including Palaestra on a large terrace which is called Upper City on the other. The monumental terrace on which the Upper City situated connects Baliklar Mountain with the Acropolis by extending the city into Mediterranean like a tongue and naturally creating a second harbour basin in the east.
Theater in Caunos

Heraklion of Kaunos

Ancient city walls


 A street in Kaunos
 The rock-carved tombs at Kaunos

Protogenes (/proʊˈtɒdʒəˌniz/; Greek: Πρωτογένης; fl. 4th century BC) was an ancient Greek painter, a contemporary rival ofApelles. As with the other famous ancient Greek painters, none of his work has survived, and it is known only from literary references and (brief) descriptions. He was born in Caunus, on the coast of Caria, but resided in Rhodes during the latter half of the 4th century BC. He was celebrated for the minute and laborious finish which he bestowed on his pictures, both in drawing and in color. Apelles, his great rival, standing astonished in presence of one of these works, could only console himself by saying that it was wanting in charm.

Zeno (or Zenon, Greek: Ζήνων; 3rd century BC), son of Agreophon, was a native of the Greek town of Caunus in lower Asia Minor. He moved to Philadelphia inEgypt and became a private secretary to Apollonius, the finance minister to Ptolemy II Philadelphus and Ptolemy III Euergetes during the 3rd century BC.
A cache of over 2,000 Greek and Demotic letters and documents written on papyri by Zeno were discovered in the 1900s and are referred to as the Zenon Archiveor Zenon Papyri.

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