The ancient Carlan city of Caunos Is found some thirty-five miles south of Muğla travelling along route six out of Muğla. The site is located between the villages of Köyceğiz and Dalyan, near a large artificial lake. This is linked with the sea by a six-mlie-long channel that is thought to have existed In ancient times. Motorboat services connects Köyceğiz with the nearby fishing village of Dalyan. The citizens of Caunos suffered a longstanding history of sickness and poor health according to the ancient writers. We see several references to these people as hawing an unhealthy greenish complexion. The morshy lowlands of the area can account for the sickness which may well have been malaria. Herodotus wrote that, while the people of Caunos were Carians, they were thought to have originally come from the island of Crete. And the geographer Strabo refers to Caunos with its fortified harbor that could bs closed off in times of trouble. The frontier that marked the boundrles of Caria and Lycia crossed near Caunos and, according to Herodotus, while the people of the city spoke like the Carians, their customs were closely resembling those of the Lycians. Tombs along the canal carved in stone’ in the Lycian manner lend credence to this suggestion. What was once the harbor of Caunos has now formed the lake known as Sülüklü Gölü near the acropolis. Past the site flows what Is thought to hove been the Calbls River, according to one of Strabo’s references to the city, This is the Dalyan Cayi River connecting the lake with the sea. This deep channel, runs past the small fishing village of Dalyan, meaning ‘fishery’ in Turkish, from which a seasonal fish netting industry is carried on, The fish are trapped with wide nets spread across the river as they return from their spawning grounds in the fresh-water lake back into the sea. An inscription dealing with fishing regulations has been found in the area of Caunos to give evidence to the possibility that this tradition originated from the earliest occupations of the city. The amount of silting that has taken place over the centuries has placed the ancient city site back from the shoreline. During Strabo’s time, the city was on the water.
In the sixth century B.C., when Caunos could no longer hold out against the forces of Persian Harpagus, it is said the residents of the city collected all of their possessions, placed them along with their families on top of the acropolis, and set fire to it, They then returned to the fighting and ultimate defeat at the hands of the Persians. Later, after Xerxes’ campaing against Greece failed, Persian rule came to an end in Caria. In the Delian Confederation, the tax levied upon Caunos was exceedingly high, ten talents. This is even higher than that paid by Ephesus, the same as that asked of Miletus. It is thought that the wealth of Caunos may have come from the fishing industry that they were able to develop. At that time it would have been salted fish, primarily. This was one öf the staples of the ancients living in this area, not requiring any further treatment for preservation. The site reveals many and varied ruins dating primarily from the Roman period of occupation and building. Among some of the ruins to be seen at Caunos are a Roman theater and baths. The theater is large enough to hold some twenty thousand spectators. The Stoa, thought to be from the Hellenistic Periodiisnd a nymphaeum of Roman origin, several temples, Corinthian and Ionic orders, and a water reservoir are some of the hinghlights at Canunos. Turkish archaeologists have been excavating the site, chiefly Professors Baki Ogün and Ümit Serdaroğlu, since 1967, and have come up with some interesting finds as a result of their efforts.
RUINS OF CAUNOS
The ruins, located near Dalyan, are entered most easily by boat across the stretch of water from Köyceğiz. Boats are readily available and may be hired at a nominal cost. An entrance by road is found south of the town of Adaköy. The ruins of Caunos are found at the site about a mile from Dalyan. The rock tombs can be seen in the cliff face as you cross the river. These were executed in two rows, the upper one with temple tombs with their characteristic imperial columns, and the lower row with squarish, more simply-carved tombs.’ The interiors of the temple-type tombs are idrge. They commonly have three benches of stone for the positioning of the deceased. The tombs have been dated from the sherds found within as being from the fourth century B.C. Several of the tombs were used the second time during the Roman period, A tew of the tombs have a passageway cut around them in the cliff. The temple tombs consist of an cmtae, two columns of the Ionic order, a pediment and frieze. One of the tombs, the largest, which is found nearest Dalyan, has four columns and was left unfinished. One of the tombs has its pediment carved with the relief of two lions facing each other. Other tombs, of the Carian type, are found at the western end of the site. These are tombs cut down into the rock, then covered with rock lids
The acropolis of Caunos was built as a divided, two-part affair. The center of the city was placed nearer the higher, eastern section of the hill. In recent years the Turkish archeological teams have been uncovering buildings in this area, as well as many inscriptions. A long wall, in a good state of preservation is found behind this to the north-east. Since the east and south approaches are very steep and rocky, they were left with only the protection provided by the terrain. The walls defending the acropolis date only to the Middle Ages. The fort at the top, however, is thought to have been the one captured in the fourth century B.C. by the armies of Ptolemy.
The impressive amphitheater was ‘built Into the side of the acropolis hill. This Is of the Greek tradition with its semicircular cavea. It was built with thirty-four rows of seats which are still in good condition. The stage building is at the lower end, still partly covered with earth. To the north of the theater we find a basilica that is finely decorated, consisting of an apse and three aisles. Further along the ridge are extensive baths and a small temple built upon o platform. These all date from the Roman period of occupation. In addition to these, a reconstructed fountain house can be seen with an inscription to the honor of Emperor Vespasian. A shallow bathing pool, or at least this has been the concensus of scholars on the circular construction found at Caunos, can be seen as well. An outer circle was enhanced with columns placed along its edge. A stoa and several temples from the Romdn period are also noteworthy examples of the ancient structures that once stood over the face of the city of Caunos.