Labraunda is a mountainous site, located 14 km northeast of the modern town of Milas, in southwestern Turkey. It became famous in the 4th century BC for sheltering the Sanctuary of Zeus Labraundos. This area was known in ancient times as Karia (or Caria), and the Sanctuary of Zeus Labraundos, with the double axe as his symbol, was a national sanctuary for the ancient Karians. The origin of the cult of the god of the double axe goes back to the worship of Tarhunt, the Hittite god of Heaven.
The earliest evidence for the cult of Zeus at Labraunda at the site dates to the middle of the 7th century BC. Most of the monumental buildings, however, were erected in the 4th century BC by the Hekatomnid family, when they decided to use Labraunda as a display of their power. They were local dynasts originating from Mylasa (modern Milas) who were also given the position of satraps of Karia by the Great Persian King. The most famous of the Hekatomnids is Maussollos, builder of the Mausoleum in Halikarnassos (modern Bodrum) one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
After the Macedonian conquest, building activity never ceased and Labraunda kept its rank among the most important locations of Karia. The site knew a second peak of activity in the Roman period, especially during the 2nd century AD, when several baths complex, porticoes and a large basilica were erected. Early Christianity is represented on the site by two Byzantine churches and the transformation of the site as a settlement for a small community which re-occupied most of the site by dwelling in the ancient structures.
Excavations in Labraunda commenced under the leadership of Axel W. Persson in 1948, who was a professor of Classical archaeology at Uppsala University, and have from the very onset of its existence been a focal point of the SRII, which has published the findings since 1980. The current excavation leader Olivier Henry (email@example.com) is affiliated with both the French institute of Anatolian studies in Istanbul and the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris, and is actually teaching at Bilkent University. Swedish scholars affiliated to the SRII still participate in the excavations on a regular basis and their publications remain a core part of the institute's academic output.
Annual reports from the excavations have been issued in the Opuscula Journal and, since 2013 in Anatolia Antiqua. Final reports (12 so far) have been issued by the Swedish Institutes in Athens and Istanbul, the latest ones being Remains of Late Antiquity and The Andrones by Jesper Blid and Pontus Hellström. More information can be found on the homepage of the Labraunda excavations, www.labraunda.org.