Ancient City of Kaunos
Justification of Outstanding Universal Value
Kaunosians are the indigenous people of Anatolia as evident from their unique language, customs and rituals, beliefs which they had their own God namely Baselius Kaunios.
Ancient City of Kaunos was a port city of extremely strategic importance especially for the merchant ships travelling between East Mediterranean and Aegean Sea. This makes Kaunos more attractive relatively to contemporary cities in terms not only of historical geography or urbanization, but also political and social life, economic and cultural changes and developments. The city had developed into a thriving port, possibly due to increased agriculture and the demand for Kaunosian export articles, such as salt, salted fish, slaves, pine resin and black mastic – the raw materials used in boat building and repair. The city walls which are extra-proportional in relation to the size of Kaunos and its population, presumably is a result of high expectations of the satrap about the city's future as a marine and commercial port.
Many architectural remains unearthed in Kanuos are the early examples and archetypes of Anatolian archaeology and they mostly enable our understanding of their original designs. Rock-cut tombs which are peculiar to Kaunos, Measuring Platform and the Salt-pan which are firstly documented in archaeology together with Custom Laws of the time which are fully unearthed and documented are among those coming to the forefront.
Therefore, historical ruins and cultural background of Kaunos stands out as an outstanding universal value flourishing among its contemporary examples.
Criterion (i): City walls of Kaunos reaching wideness of 4 m in places are structured by intertwining sculpted stones without any mortar. Considering the steep topography of the area they were built, it is still a mystery how the stones are carried to so high and steep mountain and which technology was used.
Criterion (ii): Interaction between contemporary civilizations of Caria and Lycia was inevitable for Kaunos as the outcomes of this interaction can be found in architecture and daily life. For example, while the most gorgeous temple-like rock-cut tombs are found in Kaunos, they also appear in other ancient cities in the vicinity of Kaunos, which brings out the idea that this tradition was spread from Kaunos.
Moreover, the façades of the rock-cut tombs resemble the fronts of Hellenistic temples with two Ionian pillars, a triangular pediment, an architrave with toothed friezes, and acroterions shaped like palm leaves, which demonstrates an interaction among different cultures finally reflected on a new and unique architectural style.
Criterion (iii): In Kaunos, we witness fine examples of Hellenistic architecture and building technology in the city walls. The regularly-shaped rectangular blocks and the way the blocks have been positioned give a fine impression of Hellenistic building techniques in the construction of city walls.
Additionally, Kaunosians are the only representation of an Anatolian cult in this region in the sense that they used a naturally found stone pillar as a symbol for their God.
Above all, the city is a testimony to a civilization with its own language which lived only in this region of the world.
Criterion (iv): Rock-cut tombs worked on the limestone steep façade of Baliklar Mountain are grouped in seven different areas in the direction of southwest. The most significant ones among 167 tombs are the Temple-Faceted ones. Rock-cut tombs in Kaunos are differed from others with its unique façade typology representing façade architecture seen in Hellen Temples. Tombs in this typology of this period are seen only in Kaunos and its hinterland which reveals its uniqueness to Kaunos. That’s why; this type of tombs is named as “Kaunosian Style Rock-Cut Tombs”.
Custom Laws inscribed onto the harbour-directed façade of the Harbour Agora Fountain is worth to note as it is the longest and full text for today.
Measuring Platform, which is round-shaped and three-staged structure in 13.75 m. diameter located on the summit of the upper terrace, is - as it is understood by the geometrical network dividing the top stage circle into 16 sectors of 22.50 - apparently the wind measuring platform mentioned by famous architect of Agustus Period, Vitvuvius, on his book. This structure which is known to be used for situating streets and roads accordingly to the wind directions is also a first in archaeology.
The Great Church, presumably built in the 5th century BC or later on the right side of the road from city entrance to the theatre, is the one and only domed church in Anatolia found until today.
The only example of a Periaktos, the rotary curtain system in ancient theatres meaning “turning around its own axis”, has been unearthed in Kaunos Theatre. The architectural remains unearthed on the basement of this system exhibit traces as much that it can be rebuilt appropriately to its original design.
Salt-pan (Sal Caunitis) excavated on the Iztuzu beach is the first archaeological record which will light the salt production and salt economics of antiquity in Anatolia. By this remain we now know the architectural design of a salt production centre which we had been informed only through the ancient writers. It is in a very good state of conservation that salt production with the technology of its time can be restarted any time.
Likewise, Aphrodite Euploia Sacred Room, known only through the scripts, is firstly excavated in Kaunos. There is no doubt about the Sacred Room opened in the back wall of the Harbor Stoa was established for Aphrodite Euploia with both terracotta sculptures left as oblation deposits and marble altar on which relief of the Goddess was engraved.
Demeter Sacred Place designed on the large terrace at the north-east of Small Acropolis, is differed from others not only with its place in the topography or small terracotta sculptures in indefinite quantity and variety, but also sanctifying the bedrock elevation itself which is decomposed by deep fractures.
Kaunos also keeps a very precious find which is an oblation exedra of Protegenes, who was a very famous mural artist of Diadoch’s period, as it reveals that he was from Kaunos, not from Rhodos as it had already known.
Votive-box (Thesauros) and donation-box are also among those found firstly in Kaunos.