Kaunos is one of the most mysterious cities in the Mediterranean region. Its situated among Marmaris, Köyceğiz and Sarıgerme. The waters of Köyceyiz lake fall into the Mediterranean Sea by a natural canal. The canal, which is approximately fifteen metres in width, seperates Kaunos from Dalyan. On a steep slope just opposite the town of Dalyan, sizeable rock tombs which belong to the people of Kaunos are seen. These rock tombs are the landmark of Kaunos and Dalyan.
Kaunos ruins are one kilometre away from Dalyan. Its possible to reach Kaunos by motorway or by sea. Daily excursions from Marmaris to Kaunos and to Dalyan are organized everyday. However, because of the shallowness of the water at some points where the waters of the canal fall into the Mediterranean, yachts are not allowed to enter Kaunos. Passengers are carried from here to Kaunos by small boats. Kaunos ruins are one kilometre inside from the canals. Thats why, after disembarking from the boat, visitors are required to walk for ten minutes to get to Kaunos.
In his work the famous historian Heredotos wrote that the people of Kaunos spoke the same language as the people of Karya, that they came from the island of Crete and that they followed their own traditions. So, the people of Kaunos are seperated from the people of Karya and Likya.
A geographer from Amasya, Strabon, who lived in the Roman period, mentioned some interesting observations in his book. In his book the author wrote that Kaunos was a fertile city. However, since the summer and autumn seasons were very hot, he wrote, the weather was considered not to be good. The reason why it was considered so, as he pointed out in accordance with the belief of that time, was the abundance of fruit. According to the author, the people of Kaunos are pitifully unhealthy and the duration of their lives is as short as leaves. The fact that Kaunos, about which a detailed information is available, was attracted by historians and geographers proves the importance of the city.
The foundation of Kaunos is to do with the mythological tales. The best known myth about the foundation of Kaunos was translated by Azra Erhat from the famous Latin poet, Ovidius.
Miletos brings twins to the world, a son and a daughter. The son is named Caunos (Kaunos), the daughter is Byblis. According to a rumour, when the children have grown up, Byblis falls in love with Caunos. Byblis love for Caunos grows everyday. So, she decides to write a letter in which she expresses her love to Caunos. But what Caunos feels in return for her love is just hatred, anger and loathe. Because of this unnatural love, Caunos decides to leave for Karya with his followers, and then he sets up a city which will be called after his name. Becaused of her unreturned love, Byblis wants to commit suicide and she jumps of a high rock. Nymphs take pity on her and turns her to a spring. Byblis tears become a river and flows.
The second tale is contrary to the first one. Caunos is expelled from Miletos due to his unnatural love for Byblis. He arrives in Kaunos and sets up his own city.'
Thats the sad foundation story of Kaunos. The end of the city is also sorrowful. First the harbour overflows, then we see mosquitos which cause a deadly disease and finally frequent earthquakes. Just like penalties for the city to destroy it.
The antique city is situated on an uneven plot. The principal monuments of the city are; Acropol(the fortress and the ramparts), city ramparts, theatre, church, bath, fountain, stoa, agora, storehouses, inner city roads, temples, sacred area, harbour and cemetry. Apart from these, such structures, which are not available at present, as a military harbour, a dockyard, sports facilities, houses, monuments under the earth etc., show that this antique was a very important settlement. Kaunos can be considered to be a state and neighbouring Pisilis (Sarıgerme), Sultaniye (Köyceğiz Lake) are subordinate settlements.
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