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Kaunos 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.

Map of the lands of Carian Civilisation (red part) & the other ancient civilisations in Asia minor


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Category:         Ancient City

Civilisation       Hittite /Asia Minor

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.


The Present Closeby Toristic Town of  Kaunos ''Dalyan''


Fhe Famous ''İztuzu Beach'' close to Kaunos & Dalyan

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Kaunos in Greek Mythology

According to mythology Kaunos was founded by King Kaunos, son of the Carian King Miletus and Kyane, and grandson of Apollo. Kaunos had a twin sister by the name of Byblis who developed a deep, unsisterly love for him. When she wrote her brother a love letter, telling him about her feelings, he decided to flee with some of his followers to settle elsewhere. His twin sister became mad with sorrow. she followed him until she was completely exhausted by grief and died or committed suicide. Mythology says that the Calbys river emerged from her tears.

Caunus eventually came to Lycia, where he married the Naiad Pronoe and had by her a son Aegialus. Caunus became king of the land; when he died, Aegialus gathered all the people from scattered settlements in a newly founded city which he named Caunus after his father.

Kaunian rock tombs in Hellenistic style

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Kaunos / kaunian Rock Tombs in hellenistic Style

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. Herodotus writes that the Kaunians fiercely countered Harpagus' attacks but were ultimately defeated. Despite the fact that the Kaunians themselves said they originated from Crete, Herodotus doubted this. 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.

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

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.

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, because of the increased Hellenistic influence. The myth about the foundation of the city probably dates back to this period.


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