Xanthos

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Xanthos (Lycian: Arñna, Greek: Ξάνθος) was the name of a city in ancient Lycia, the site of present day Kınık, Antalya Province, Turkey, and of the river on which the city is situated. In early sources, "Xanthos" is used synonymously for Lycia as a whole.

The site has been inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988.

Contents

The City

Xanthos is the Greek appellation of Arñna, a Lycian city. The Hittite and Luwian name of the city is given as Arinna (not to be confused with the Arinna near Hattusa). The Romans called the city Xanthus, as all the Greek -os suffixes were changed to -us in Latin. Xanthos was a center of culture and commerce for the Lycians, and later for the Persians, Macedonians, Greeks, and Romans who in turn conquered the city and occupied the adjacent territory.

Xanthus is mentioned by numerous ancient Greek and Roman writers. Strabo notes Xanthos as the largest city in Lycia. Both Herodotus and Appian describe the conquest of the city by Harpagus on behalf of the Persian Empire, in approximately 540 BC. According to Heredotus, the Persians met and defeated a small Lycian army in the flatlands to the north of the city. After the encounter, the Lycians retreated into the city which was besieged by Harpagus. The Lycians destroyed their own Xanthian acropolis, killed their wives, children, and slaves, then proceeded on a suicidal attack against the superior Persian troops. Thus, the entire population of Xanthos perished but for 80 families who were absent during the fighting.

During the Persian occupation, a local leadership was installed at Xanthos, which by 520 BC was already minting its own coins. By 516 BC, Xanthos was included in the first nomos of Darius I in the tribute list. Xanthos' fortunes were tied to Lycia's as Lycia changed sides during the Greco-Persian Wars, archeological digs demonstrate that Xanthos was destroyed in approximately 475 BC-470 BC, whether by the Athenian Kimon or by the Persians is open to debate. As we have no reference to this destruction in either Persian or Greek sources, some scholars attribute the destruction to natural or accidental causes. Xanthos was rebuilt after the destruction and in the final decades of the 5th century BC, Xanthos conquered nearby Telmessos and incorporated it into Lycia.

The prosperity of Lycia during the Persian occupation is demonstrated by the extensive architectural achievements in Xanthos, particularly the many tombs, culminating in the Nereid Monument.

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