Xanthos (Lycian: 𐊀𐊕𐊑𐊏𐊀 Arñna, Greek: Ξάνθος, Latin: Xanthus, Turkish: Ksantos) was a city in ancient Lycia, the site of present-day Kınık, Antalya Province, Turkey, and of the river on which the city is situated. The ruins of Xanthus are on the south slopes of a hill, the ancient acropolis, located on the northern outskirts of the modern city, on the left bank of the Xanthus, which flows beneath the hill. A single road, Xantos yolu, encircles the hill and runs through the ruins.

Xanthos is the Greek appellation of Arñna, a city originally speaking the Lycian language. The Hittite and Luwian name of the city is given in inscriptions as Arinna (not to be confused with the Arinna near Hattusa). Xanthos is a Greek name, acquired during its Hellenization. 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, Greeks and Romans who in turn conquered the city and occupied the adjacent territory. As Xanthus, the former Byzantine bishopric remains a Latin Catholic titular see. After the fall of the Byzantine Empire in the 15th century, the region became Turkish. The ancient city had long since been abandoned.

Reconstruction Nereid Monument BM
A partial reconstruction of the Nereid Monument from Xanthos in the British Museum.
Xanthos is located in Turkey
Shown within Turkey
LocationKınık, Antalya Province, Turkey
Coordinates36°21′22″N 29°19′7″E / 36.35611°N 29.31861°ECoordinates: 36°21′22″N 29°19′7″E / 36.35611°N 29.31861°E
Area126 ha (310 acres)
Official nameXanthos-Letoon
Criteriaii, iii
Designated1988 (12th session)
Reference no.484
RegionEurope and North America


Xanthos ruins
Xanthos city ruins

Trojan War heroes and Lycian leaders Glaucus and Sarpedon are described in the Iliad as coming from the land of the Xanthos River. In the same text, Achilles' immortal, talking horse is named Xanthos. Xanthus is mentioned by numerous ancient Greek and Roman writers. Strabo notes Xanthos as the largest city in Lycia.

Under the Persian Empire

Both Herodotus and Appian describe the conquest of the city by Harpagus on behalf of the Persian Empire, in approximately 540 BC. According to Herodotus, 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.

Xanthus, tomb of the Nereids, podium
Original podium of the Nereid Monument at Xanthos.

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 this was done 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.

Conquest by Alexander the Great

Reports on the city's surrender to Alexander the Great differ: Arrian reports a peaceful surrender, but Appian claims that the city was sacked. After Alexander's death, the city changed hands among his rival heirs; Diodorus notes the capture of Xanthos by Ptolemy I Soter from Antigonos.

Roman and Byzantine rule

Appian, Dio Cassius, and Plutarch each report that city was once again destroyed in the Roman Civil Wars, circa 42 BC, by Brutus, but Appian notes that it was rebuilt under Mark Antony. Remains of a Roman amphitheater remain on the site. Marinos reports that there was a school of grammarians at Xanthos in late antiquity. Xanthus was in the Roman province of Lycia, in the civil Diocese of Asia.

Ecclesiastical history


Xanthus was important enough in the Roman province of Lycia to become a suffragan of the Metropolitan Archbishopric of provincial capital Myra, in the sway of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

Three of its bishops are historically documented :

Archbishop Bruno Heim
Coat of arms of titular archbishop Bruno Heim

Titular see

The diocese was nominally restored in 1933 as Latin Titular bishopric of Xanthus (Latin) / Xanto (Curiate Italian) / Xanthien(sis) (Latin adjective).

It is vacant, having had a single incumbent, not of the fitting Episcopal (lowest) rank but archiepiscopal :

  • Titular Archbishop: Bruno Bernard Heim (Swiss) (1961.11.09 – death 2003.03.18), as papal diplomat and heraldist (also author) : Apostolic Delegate to Scandinavia (1961.11.09 – 1969.05.07), Apostolic Pro-Nuncio to Finland (1966 – 1969.05.07), Apostolic Pro-Nuncio to Egypt (1969.05.07 – 1973.07.16), Apostolic Delegate to Great Britain (1973.07.16 – 1982), Apostolic Pro-Nuncio to Great Britain (1982 – retired 1985) and on emeritate[1] When asked where Xanthus was, Heim would jokingly reply: "Most of it is now in the British Museum".[2].


As the center of ancient Lycia and the site of its most extensive antiquities, Xanthos has been a mecca for students of Anatolian civilization since the early 19th century. Many important artefacts were found at the city. Two tombs, the Nereid Monument and the Tomb of Payava, are now exhibited in the British Museum. The Harpy Tomb is still located in the ruins of the city. A sanctuary of Leto called the Letoon is located on the outskirts of the city to the southwest. The Xanthian Obelisk and the Letoon trilingual are two trilingual stelae which were found in the city and the Letoon. The site has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988.

The archeological excavations and surface investigations at Xanthos have yielded many texts in Lycian and Greek, including bilingual texts that are useful in the understanding of Lycian. One monument, the Xanthian Obelisk, is a trilingual recording an older Anatolian language conventionally called Milyan language.

The River Xanthos

Xanthos River (Eşen Çayı)
Xanthos Fluss
Xanthos River (Eşen Çayı)

Strabo reports the original name of the river as Sibros or Sirbis. During the Persian invasion the river is called Sirbe, which means "yellow", like the Greek word "xanthos". The river usually has a yellow hue because of the soil in the alluvial base of the valley. Today the site of Xanthos overlooks the modern Turkish village of Kınık. Once over 500 m long, the Roman Kemer Bridge crossed the upper reaches of the river near the present-day village of Kemer. The modern Turkish name of the river is Eşen Çayı.

A Greek legend is that the river was created by the birth pangs of Leto, whose temple, at the Letoon, is on the west bank of the river a few kilometers south of Xanthos. The Letoon has been excavated in the 20th century, and has yielded numerous Lycian, Greek, and Aramaic texts. A notable trilingual text, known as the Letoon trilingual, in all three languages was found and has been found to contain a reference to King Artaxerxes. The Letoon has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Other uses

In the literary Troy Series by author David Gemmell, the Xanthos is the largest ship ever built, belonging to the series' main character, Helikaon.


  1. ^ Le Petit Episcopologe, Issue 173, Necrology (back).
  2. ^ "The Most Reverend Bruno Heim". The Telegraph. 24 March 2003.

Sources and external links

  • Baker, Patrick; Thėriault, Gaétan (2006–2011). "Canadian Epigraphic Mission at Xanthos-Letoon (Lycia)". Université du Québec à Montréal; Université Laval. Includes downloadable published works
  • UNESCO: Xanthos-Letoon
  • Extensive picture series of Xanthos
  • Pius Bonifacius Gams, Series episcoporum Ecclesiae Catholicae, Leipzig 1931, p. 450
  • Michel Lequien, Oriens christianus in quatuor Patriarchatus digestus, Paris 1740, vol.I, coll. 981-984
  • Trevor R. Bryce, The Lycians, vol. I, pp. 12–27
  • Strabo, 14.3.6
  • Herodotus, 1.176
  • Appian, Bell. Civ., 4.10.76–80, 5.1.7
  • Arrian, Anab. 1.24.4
  • Diodorus 20.27.1
  • Dio Cassius, 47, 34.1–3
  • Plutarch, Brutus 30–31
  • Marinos, Vita Procli 6–8
  • Quintus Smyrn. 11.22–26
Antalya Province

Antalya Province (Turkish: Antalya ili) is located on the Mediterranean coast of south-west Turkey, between the Taurus Mountains and the Mediterranean sea.

Antalya Province is the centre of Turkey's tourism industry, attracting 30% of foreign tourists visiting Turkey. Its capital city of the same name was the world's third most visited city by number of international arrivals in 2011, displacing New York. Antalya is Turkey's biggest international sea resort. The province of Antalya corresponds to the lands of ancient Pamphylia to the east and Lycia to the west. It features a shoreline of 657 km (408 mi) with beaches, ports, and ancient cities scattered throughout, including the World Heritage Site Xanthos. The provincial capital is Antalya city with a population of 1,001,318.

Antalya is the fastest-growing province in Turkey; with a 4.17% yearly population growth rate between years 1990–2000, compared with the national rate of 1.83%. This growth is due to a fast rate of urbanization, particularly driven by tourism and other service sectors on the coast.


Arbinas, also Erbinas, Erbbina, was a Lycian Dynast who ruled circa 430/20-400 BCE. He is most famous for his tomb, the Nereid Monument, now on display in the British Museum. Coinage seems to indicate that he ruled in the western part of Lycia, around Telmessos, while his tomb was established in Xanthos. He was a subject of the Achaemenid Empire.

Balius and Xanthus

Balius (; Ancient Greek: Βάλιος, Balios, possibly "dappled") and Xanthus (; Ancient Greek: Ξάνθος, Xanthos, "blonde") were, according to Greek mythology, two immortal horses, the offspring of the harpy Podarge and the West wind, Zephyrus; following another tradition, their father was Zeus.

Bridge near Kemer

The Bridge near Seydikemer was a Roman segmental arch bridge near the ancient city of Xanthos in Lycia, in modern-day southwestern Turkey. Its remains are located on the upper reaches of the Xanthos river (Koca Çayı), 4 km upstream from the town of Seydikemer, at a site where the gravel river bed reaches a width of 500 m. Only a 29 m long and 4.5 m wide section on the right river bank, outside the inundation zone, is left today, having once served as approach to the bridge proper. Despite its near-complete destruction, the bridge represents a noteworthy example of the early use of segmental arches and hollow chambers in bridge building.

Charalambos Xanthos

Charalambos "Bambos" Xanthos is a Greek Cypriot hotel and restaurant owner based in London, England. Following on from being a backgammon player, he became a semi-professional poker player in 1993.

Xanthos learnt poker from his father in 1960.

He made numerous appearances in the Late Night Poker television series, and reached the grand final in series 2 (beating Victoria Coren's pocket aces along the way) and the semi-final in series 5.

Xanthos has made more final tables at the Grosvenor Victoria Casino than any other player.He does not tend to play in tournaments outside Europe. As of 2015, his total live tournament winnings exceed $1,100,000.

Emmanuil Xanthos

Emmanuil Xanthos (Greek: Εμμανουήλ Ξάνθος; 1772 – November 28, 1852) was a Greek merchant. He was one of the founders of the Filiki Eteria ("Society of Friends"), a Greek conspiratorial organization against the Ottoman Empire.

Harpy Tomb

The Harpy Tomb is a marble chamber from a pillar tomb that stands in the abandoned city of Xanthos, capital of ancient Lycia, a region of southwestern Anatolia in what is now Turkey. Built in the Persian Achaemenid Empire, and dating to approximately 480–470 BC, the chamber topped a tall pillar and was decorated with marble panels carved in bas-relief. The tomb was built for an Iranian prince or governor of Xanthus, perhaps Kybernis.

The marble chamber is carved in the Greek Archaic style. Along with much other material in Xanthos it is heavily influenced by Greek art, but there are also indications of non-Greek influence in the carvings. The reliefs are reminiscent of reliefs at Persepolis. The monument takes its name from the four carved female winged figures, resembling Harpies. The identities of the carved figures and the meaning of the scenes depicted are uncertain, but it is generally now agreed that the winged creatures are not Harpies. The Lycians absorbed much of Greek mythology into their own culture and the scenes may represent Greek deities, but it is also possible they are unknown Lycian deities. An alternative interpretation is that they represent scenes of judgement in the afterlife and scenes of supplication to Lycian rulers.

The carvings were removed from the tomb in the 19th century by archaeologist Charles Fellows and taken to England. Fellows visited Lycia in 1838 and reported finding the remains of a culture that until then was virtually unknown to Europeans. After obtaining permission from the Turkish authorities to remove stone artefacts from the region, Fellows collected a large amount of material from Xanthos under commission from the British Museum in London, where the reliefs are now on display. According to Melanie Michailidis, though bearing a "Greek appearance", the Harpy Tomb, the Nereid Monument and the Tomb of Payava were built according main Zoroastrian criteria "by being composed of thick stone, raised on plinths off the ground, and having single windowless chambers".


Kherei (circa 433-410 BC, or circa 410-390 BC) was dynast of Lycia, ruler of the area of Xanthos, at a time when this part of Anatolia was subject to the Persian, or Achaemenid, Empire.Present-day knowledge of Lycia in the period of classical antiquity comes mostly from archaeology, in which this region is unusually rich. He may have been the dynast to whom was dedicated the Xanthian Obelisk, where he is mentioned in multiple places, although this could more probably be his predecessor Kheriga (Xeriga, Gergis in Greek). Kherei may have been Kheriga's brother, and succeeded him.


Kuprilli (Lycian: KOΠPΛΛE, circa 480-440 BC) was a dynast of Lycia, at a time when this part of Anatolia was subject to the Persian, or Achaemenid, Empire. Kuprilli ruled at the time of the Athenian alliance, the Delian League.

Present-day knowledge of Lycia in the period of classical antiquity comes mostly from archaeology, in which this region is unusually rich. There is evidence of a fire that destroyed the wooden tombs and temples of Xanthos in around 470 BC. This fire was probably caused by Cimon of Athens when he attacked the sacred citadel in retaliation for the destruction of the Athenian Acropolis by the Persians and their allies, including the Lycians, in 480 BC. The Xanthians, under their dynast, Kuprilli, rebuilt the buildings in stone, which are reflected in the numerous Tombs of Xanthos visible today.


The Letoon (Ancient Greek: Λητῶον), sometimes Latinized as Letoum, was a sanctuary of Leto near the ancient city Xanthos in Lycia. It was one of the most important religious centres in the region. The site is located south of the village Kumluova in the Fethiye district of Antalya Province, Turkey. It lies approximately four kilometres south of Xanthos along the Xanthos River.

Letoon trilingual

The Letoon trilingual, or Xanthos trilingual, is an inscription in three languages: standard Lycian or Lycian A, Greek and Aramaic covering the faces of a four-sided stone stele called the Letoon Trilingual Stele, discovered in 1973 during the archeological exploration of the Letoon temple complex, near Xanthos, ancient Lycia, in present-day Turkey. The inscription is a public record of a decree authorizing the establishment of a cult, with references to the deities, and provisions for officers in the new cult. The Lycian requires 41 lines; the Greek, 35 and the Aramaic, 27. They are not word-for-word translations, but each contains some information not present in the others. The Aramaic is somewhat condensed.Although the use of the term "Letoon" with regard to the inscription and the stele is unequivocal, there is no standard name for either. Xanthos trilingual is sometimes used, which is to be distinguished from the Xanthos bilingual, meaning the Xanthos stele. However, sometimes Xanthos stele is used of the Letoon trilingual stele as well as for the tomb at Xanthos. Moreover, the term Xanthos trilingual (Lycian A, Lycian B, Greek) is sometimes used of the tomb at Xanthos. In the latter two cases only the context can provide clues as to which stele is meant.

Lotus 23

The Lotus 23 was designed by Colin Chapman as a small-displacement sports racing car. Nominally a two-seater, it was purpose-built for FIA Group 4 racing in 1962–1963. Unlike its predecessors Lotus 15 and 17, the engine was mounted amidship behind the driver in the similar configuration developed on Lotus 19.

Nereid Monument

The Nereid Monument is a sculptured tomb from Xanthos in Lycia (then part of the Achaemenid Persian Empire), close to present-day Fethiye in Mugla Province, Turkey. It took the form of a Greek temple on top of a base decorated with sculpted friezes, and is thought to have been built in the early fourth century BC (circa 390 BC) as a tomb for Arbinas (Lycian: Erbbina, or Erbinna), the Xanthian dynast who ruled western Lycia under the Achaemenid Empire.The tomb is thought to have stood until the Byzantine era before falling into ruin. The ruins were rediscovered by British traveller Charles Fellows in the early 1840s. Fellows had them shipped to the British Museum, where some of them have been reconstructed to show what the east façade of the monument would have looked like.

According to Melanie Michailidis, though bearing a "Greek appearance", the Nereid Monument, the Harpy Tomb and the Tomb of Payava were built according main Zoroastrian criteria "by being composed of thick stone, raised on plinths off the ground, and having single windowless chambers". The Nereid Monument was the main inspiration for the famous Mausoleum at Halicarnassus.


Pinara (Lycian: 𐊓𐊆𐊍𐊍𐊁𐊑𐊏𐊆 Pilleñni, presumably from the adjective "round"; Greek: τὰ Πίναρα, formerly Artymnesus or Artymnesos according to one account) was a large city of ancient Lycia at the foot of Mount Cragus (now Mount Babadağ), and not far from the western bank of the River Xanthos, homonymous with the ancient city of Xanthos (now Eşen Stream).

The remains of several ancient temples can be seen in Pinara, as well as rock tombs including one "royal tomb", an upper and a lower acropolis, a theatre, an odeon, an agora and a church. The name Pinara has somewhat been assimilated to the name of the present-day village of Minare, half an hour below the ruins and depending Fethiye district of Muğla Province, Turkey.


Pixodarus or Pixodaros (in Lycian 𐊓𐊆𐊜𐊁𐊅𐊀𐊕𐊀 Pixedara; in Greek Πιξώδαρoς; ruled 340–335 BC), was a ruler of Caria, nominally the Achaemenid Empire Satrap, who enjoyed the status of king or dynast by virtue of the powerful position his predecessors of the House of Hecatomnus (the Hecatomnids) created when they succeeded the assassinated Persian Satrap Tissaphernes in the Carian satrapy. Lycia was also ruled by the Carian dynasts since the time of Mausolus, and the name of Pixodarus as ruler appears in the Xanthos trilingual inscription in Lycia.


Scamander , Skamandros (Ancient Greek: Σκάμανδρος), Xanthos (Ξάνθος), was the name of a river god in Greek mythology.

Tomb of Payava

The Tomb of Payava is a Lycian tall rectangular free-standing barrel-vaulted stone sarcophagus, and one of the most famous tombs of Xanthos. It was built in the Achaemenid Persian Empire, for Payava who was probably the ruler of Xanthos, Lycia at the time, in around 360 BC. The tomb was discovered in 1838 and brought to England in 1844 by the explorer Sir Charles Fellows. He described it as a 'Gothic-formed Horse Tomb'. According to Melanie Michailidis, though bearing a "Greek appearance", the Tomb of Payava, the Harpy Tomb and the Nereid Monument were built according main Zoroastrian criteria "by being composed of thick stone, raised on plinths off the ground, and having single windowless chambers".

Xanthos (King of Thebes)

Xanthus (Greek: Ξάνθος) was the king of Thebes, the 16th and final monarch that ruled the city. He was possibly king only temporarily, being shown at times as the king of the Boeotians, the King of the Thebians. He was killed by Melanthus of Attica.

Black Sea
Central Anatolia
East Anatolia
Southeastern Anatolia
Black Sea
Central Anatolia
Eastern Anatolia


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