Caunus, the easternmost city of Caria, on the border with Lycia, began its minting activity in the early 5th century BC. On the obverse, the coins carry a female winged figure with outstretched hands in a kneeling-running position with two volutes on her head. On the coins of the late 5th century BC, she holds a caduceus and a wreath. Little attention has been paid to the identification of this figure and to her cultic, cultural, and identity-forming significance. Generally, she is referred to either as Iris or Nike.
This paper proposes to identify her as the goddess Potnia Theron, the mistress of wild animals and the underworld who is rooted in the Minoan culture. After an iconographic analysis, the origin of Caunus in Crete handed down by Herodotus (Hdt. 1, 172) will be discussed and re-evaluated based on the proposed identification of this goddess.