Labraunda is an ancient archaeological site five kilometers west of Ortaköy, Muğla Province, Turkey, in the mountains near the coast of Caria. In ancient times, it was held sacred by Carians and Mysians alike. The site amid its sacred plane treeswas enriched in the Hellenistic style by the Hecatomnid dynasty of Mausolus, satrap (and virtual king) of Persian Caria (c. 377 – 352 BCE), and also later by his successor and brother Idrieus;
Labranda was the dynasty's ancestral sacred shrine. The prosperity of a
rapidly hellenised Caria occurred in the during the 4th century BCE. Remains of Hellenistic houses and streets can still be traced, and there are numerous inscriptions. The cult icon here was a local Zeus Labrandeus (Ζεὺς Λαβρανδεύς), a standing Zeus with the tall lotus-tipped scepter upright in his left hand and the double-headed axe, the labrys, over his right shoulder. The cult statue was the gift of the founder of the dynasty, Hecatomnus himself, recorded in a surviving inscription.
In the 3rd century BCE, with the fall of the Hecatomnids, Labraunda passed into the control of Mylasa. The site was later occupied without discontinuity until the mid Byzantine period.
The first occurrence of "labrys" in English noted by the OED concerns this sanctuary:
seems natural to interpret names of Carian sanctuaries like Labranda in
the most literal sense as the place of the sacred labrys, which was the
Lydian (or Carian) name for the Greek πέλεκυς, or double-edged axe.
The same root labr- appears in the labyrinth of Knossos, which is interpreted as the "place of the axe." The double-headed axe was a central iconic motif at Labraunda. The axe cast of gold had been kept in the Lydian capital Sardes for centuries. The Lydian king Gyges
awarded it to the Carians, to commemorate Carian support in a battle.
This is the mythic anecdote: the social and political reality may have
been more complicated, for such ritual objects are never lightly passed
from hand to hand or moved from their fixed abode. Upon receiving this
precious, purely ritual axe, the Carians kept it in the Temple of Zeus
The figure of a double-sided axe is a feature of many coins of Halicarnassus. Coins at the museum at Bodrum
bear the head of Apollo on the obverse and on the reverse the name of
the reigning Carian ruler inscribed next to the figure of Zeus Labraunda
carrying the double-bladed Carian axe.