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Ruins of Kaunos

Kaunos was a city of ancient Caria, Anatolia, a few km west of the modern town of Dalyan, Muğla Province, Turkey. Kaunos was said to have been founded by Kaunos, son of Miletos and Kyane, on the southern coast of Caria, opposite Rhodes. It was in a district later under the jurisdiction of Rhodes known as Peraea, "the Rhodian Shore", at the foot of Mount Tarbelos. Its acropolis was called Imbros. It exported, chiefly to Rome, highly prized figs. It was the home of the painter Protogenes. It was a member of the Chrysaorian League.

The ruins of the city are near Dalyan, on the right bank of the ancient Kalbis. Among them are a theatre, a large rectangular building that may have been a temple, others of uncertain description, a Byzantine church, and rock-hewn tombs.

Kaunos was Christianized early, and 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.

Kaunos remains a titular see of the Roman Catholic Church, Cauniensis; the seat has been vacant since the death of the last bishop in 1972. There are three ways of reaching Kaunos which attract great attention today owing to its Venetian type of channel and Lycian type of tombs . The visitors who come by means of their yachts, land on the island named Delikli Ada and reach the site of the ruins by starting off in small boats from here; those who come from Marmaris by sea route, drop anchor in the vicinity of Delikli Ada and also reach the site of the ruins in small boats; and those who come by land route, reach the ruins by starting boats from the Village of Dalyan which is at a distance of 27 km from Köycegiz.

The existance of the ruins of Kaunos was first discovered in the year 1842, and excavations have been carried on there by the Turkish archaeologists under the supervision of Prof. Baki Ögün since 1967.

Kaunos, the son of Miletos, had been indicated as the founder of the city and therefore, it had been named Kaunos. The city was first captured by the Persians and then by Alexander and in the year 189 B.C., it was made subject to the Kingdom of Rhodes. We know that it continued until the year 167 B.C. Kaunos was the subjected to the kingdom of Pergamon and was brought directly under the sovereignty of Rome after 133 B.C. You reach the site of the ruins by means of channel adorned with Lycian type tombs belonging to the 4th century B.C. The first place that we see is the acropolis of Kaunos. The northern part of the city wall, which surrounds the acropolis, belongs to the period of Mausolos. The northwestern part has Hellenistic qualities. And starting from the harbour are seen the city walls of Cyclopean type belonging to the Archaic Period.

The theater belonging to the Roman Period is located at the skirt of the acropolis and its southern part is carved in the rock; the other parts are shaped into seats supported by gable roof vaults. There are 33 rows of seats, the scene has collapsed and the part of the orchestra has been filled in.

A temple, revealed by the recent excavations, is located at far west of the theater, and a church and the magnificent walls of the Roman Bath are visible beyond it. Another temple belonging to the Roman Period is located behind the bath. As we go downwards, we see the remains of a wall built in the shape of three-fourths of a circle with a row of columns on it and, behind it, a temple of the Doric order.

The locality called Sülüklü Göl - the Lake of Leeches in Kaunos today, was a harbour closed by means of chains during the Antique Period. The excavations performed at the north of this harbour have revealed a stoa which used to form a part of the port agora.

The fountain near the stoa has a plan of inantis style and has been restored recently, and the inscription which is seen on its side facing the harbour, contains the written decrees concerning the customs house.

Kaunos today is accessible by taking a row-boat across the river down the street from the Dalyan Donmez Hotel at the river. Once across the river it is a 15 minute walk to the main gate of Kaunos. If you have traveled by boat from Marmaris or Fethiye your boat captain will be able to answer your questions about the ancient city and how to get to the entrance.

For more information visit: kaunos-information.com

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