Kaunos Ancient City and Rock-Cut Tombs

Kaunos Ancient City and Rock-Cut Tombs

Kaunos is an ancient city with a rich history that spans over 3000 years, located in the Dalyan district of Muğla Province in Turkey. It is one of the country's most fascinating historical sites due to its rock-cut tombs. Kaunos was once a vital commercial port city renowned for its salt production and trade, but over time, the sea filled with alluvium, and it lost its port character.

Human activity in this region dates back to around the tenth century BCE, with the Kaunosians settling there in the sixth century BCE. Herodotus wrote that he believed them to be indigenous people of the area. The Kaunosians had their language, customs, rituals, and unique spiritual beliefs, which they happily shared.

Kaunos was a significant trade hub for the ancient Mediterranean world. It not only provided basic necessities such as salt, dried fish, and figs but also produced materials for long sea journeys like building materials and even slaves. As long as it remained in their sphere of influence, most rulers in power desired this lucrative city, making it a frequent target of conquest from 500 BC to 600 AD, until the Romans finally took control.

Kaunos Ancient City and Rock-Cut Tombs

However, around 1500 AD, the inhabitants of Kaunos abandoned the city, and it fell into ruin. For 500 years, the city was forgotten until it was rediscovered as one of Turkey's most impressive historical sites.

Some of the most fascinating findings at the ancient city include the Acropolis theater, which dates back to the second century BCE and is one of the oldest theaters in existence. The monopteros, a dome-shaped building with an open-air roof, was used by the ancient Greeks to view their favorite god in the center. The wind-measuring platform, dating back to around 150 BC, helped engineers design the city according to the wind direction. The Roman baths, built in 85 BCE, included an exercise room, a sweating room, a warm-wet room, and a cold pool.

The most significant feature of the ancient city is the rock-cut tombs, which are grouped and labeled based on their location. There are seven locations, each proceeding southwest from its previous point. The Temple Faceted Tombs are a unique façade typology seen only in Kaunosian Rock-Cut Tombs of this period, making them a distinct feature of the area.

In 2014, Kaunos Ancient City and Rock-cut Tombs were added to the Tentative List of UNESCO, highlighting its importance as a historical site.