- FOUNDATION - HISTORY
name, which is Miletos in the lonic dialect and Milatos in
the Doric one, is said to be related to the city of Milatos
situated on the island of Crete.
idea is widespread that the Kingdom of Ahhiyava, mentioned
in written Hittite documents and of which the location is as
yet unknown, was founded in the region of Miletus, and the
city of Millavanda also mentioned in the same source is
dentified with Miletus.
geographer Strabo and the historian Epheros have written
that the city was first founded by Cretans, whereas
according to Homer it was founded by Carians. That Miletus
was founded in the 10th century BC at the end of the Greek
migrations, by lonians under the direction of Neleus, son of
King Codros of Athens, is still another hypothesis.
undertaken around the Athena temple in the years 1955 to
1957 revealed megaron - type houses, and protective walls of
a width of 4 metres belonging to the Mycenaean (1400 BC)
settlement as well as fragments of Mycenaean ceramics.
to findings acquired in recent years during the researc work
at Killik Tepe in the south of Akköy and dated back to pre
- Mycenaean periods, the founding date of the city goes as
far back as the 11th century BC. From the results of
excavations and research up to the present day, it is
accepted that the former indigenous people of the region
(Carians), became integrated with the latecomers, the
Cretans, and had founded an important Mycenaean city in
Miletus. This earliest of the settlements, the Mycenaean
city, as shown by the findings, was in the precicts of the
Athena temple. One can also see here findings and remains
from the Geometric and Archaic periods.
these findings give us the idea that Miletus was not only an
Anatolian city containing Mycenaean export articles, but was
a Mycenaean colony enjoying close cultural relations with
Greece and Crete.
is understood from the structure of the city walls revealed
in the excavations that the Archaic city acropolis was on
the hill of Kalabaktepe.
insufficient knowledge of these periods will gain in clarity
only in the continuation of the excavations and research.
situated on extremely fertile and arable land, Miletus,
instead of being an agricultural and livestock raising area,
gave navigation foremost importance, and from the year 670
BC began colonization movements. It established a great
number of colonies on the coasts of the Black Sea, the
Mediterranean and the Marmara Sea. Pliny states in his work
"Naturalis Historia" that Miletus had founded
about 90 colonies. However it is quite certain that some of
these were in the form of small coastal markets (Emporiums).
The most important among the Milesian colonies were
naucratis (on the Egyptioan coast), Sinope, Amisos, Abydos,
Cyzicos and Olbia.
to the contribution of its markets extending from Egypt to
the Black Sea, Miletus made substantial progress in maritime
commerce, the city prospered and became the leader eof lonia
both in political and cultural spheres.
the end of the 7th century BC, Miletus ensured its own
protection from the continuous assults of the Lydian
Kingdom, by making a treaty with the Lydians through the
rational rule of the famous dictator Thrasybulus, and
continued the clonization movement.
the Kingdom of Lydia fell to the Persian king Cyrus in 546
BC, the fear that Persian rule would expand brought all
lonian cities together again under the Panionion League.
Following discussions, defence preparations against the
Persians were begun, and also help was asked from the
Spartans. In spite of all these measures however, the cities
were not able to defend themselves against the Persians, and
beginning with Ephesus, they almost all came under Persian
miletus, again acting politically, signed a treaty with the
Persian king Cyrus similar to the one it had made with the
Kingdom of Lydia, and stopped the Persians from besieging
consraint and excessive customs charges under Persian rule
which lasted until 500 BC, resulted in limiting overseas
trade which led all lonian cities to economic crisis.
Miletus, although maintaining its semiautonomous status due
to the treaty made with the Persians, was the city the most
affected by the economic crisis. The fact that the straits
and the coasts of the Marmara and Black Sea which connected
it to the colonies were under Persian rule, had reduced
substantially the income it obtained through overses trade.
Aristagoras, who at the time ruled over the city and who was
of an ambitious personality, arranged with the cooperation
of the satrapy of Sardis, an attack on the island of Naxos
with a view to making new efforts in overseas trade. At the
end of the unsuccessful attack which lasted four months.
Aristagoras, thinking his authority shaken, in an effort to
withdraw attention from the defeat, forced the people, by
inciting them, to revolt against the Persians. The revolt
which Aristagoras, ignoring the opposition of Hecataeus,
started with the objective of showing himself as the rescuer
of lonian cities, soon spread to all the other cities,
headed by Miletus, under Persian constraint.
from others states was need to withstand the Persians who
were very strong. There was no answer from Athens and Sparta
to Aristagosas, demand for help. The revolt, which lasted
six years and which at first seemed to be successful, ended
in 494 BC with a disastrous defeat of the lonian fleet by
the Persians in front on the island of Lade. Miletus and
Chios were the cities most affected by the aftermath of the
battle of Lade. The Persians besieged Miletus by land and
sea, and completely razed, destroyed and sacked it. They
drove the people away to everything and who were enslaved,
this was the beginning of terrible times. The sad end of
Miletus affected the writer of tragedies, Phrynichus, and
caused him to write a play with the title of "The
Capture of Miletus". The play was staged in Athens in
492 BC. However, it was banned and the author punished,
because of the excessive reaction of the people .
played in important role in the defeat of the Persians in
the battle of Mycale in 497 BC. Miletus joined in 477 the
Sea League of Attica - Delos, established shortly after the
battle, and paind 10 talents for the period 450 - 459.
Membership dues paid to the League were proportionate to the
economic structure of the cities. For example, the 10
talents paid by Miletus when Ephesus, one of the most
important cities of lonia, was paying 7.5 talents, show that
the city had regained its old prosperity.
442 BC, after the Samos - Priene war, Pericles reduced by
half the customs taxes paid by Miletus to the League, with a
view to enabling Miletus to have closer relations with
Athens, and to stimulate overseas trade. As a consequence of
this, at the beginning of the Peloponnesian war Miletus was
on the side of Athens and acted as its protector. After the
Peloponnesian war which lasted some thirty years, the
Sicilian campaing caused Athens to suffer great losses and
its economy to be upset. To secure economic aid, Athens
contacted the Persian satrap and told him that if aid was
provided he would allow the cities on the western Anatolian
coast to come under Persian rule. Thus, the two hostile
nations negotiated a treaty and Miletus came under Persian
Persian satrap Tissaphernes, commissioned to rule over
Miletus, built himself a castle in the vicinity of the
theatre and settled down in the city his first action was to
make Miletus leave the Attice - Delos Sea League (412 BC).
He Continued to rule over the city until the year 401 BC.
later years, Miletus came under the rule of the Carian
satraps Hekatomnus and Mausolus, and after the death of
Mausolus in 353 DC it was again ruled by Athens.
new are started when Alexander the Great defeated the
Persians in the Battle of the Granicus (the battle of the
riders - 334 BC) and took over all the Ionian cities without
encountering any difficulty. When Alexander besieged
Miletus, the city was headed by the Persian satrap
Hegesistratus, who although a Persian, carried a Greek name,
withstood the armies of Alexander, but Alexander captured
the part of the city remaining outside the walls
(Kalabaktepe) and took up temporary quarters there with his
army. Although later a short time defeated by Alexander's
powerful army and fleet, and had to surrender. The city
walls were greatly damaged during the resistance. When
Alexander seized Miletus, he forgave the people, substituted
a people's rule for oligarchy, abolished the taxes paid to
the Persians, and started re - instating activities in the
city. During this period Miletus attained a high development
rate and revived. It began regainin commercial importance
through its colonies and the new markets it acquired in the
the death of Alexander (314 BC) and the battle of Ipsus (301
BC), Miletus came under the rule of the Kingdom of
Selecucus, and during the reigns of Seleucus I and his son
Antiochus I the city was again active in building.
Lysimachus, a commander under Alexander, who took over the
rule in 287 BC, played an important role in the development
of the city He contributed greatly to its prosperity by the
donation he made circa 295 BC. During the Hellenistic
period, Miletus came at intervals under the influence and
rule of the kingdoms of the Ptolemies, Seleucus and
Pergamum, and gained autonomy with the treaty of Apameia
(188 BC) made following the battle of Magnesia ad Sipylum
During this period, the city was in close relationship with
the Kingdom of Pergamum, and a gymnasium and a stadium were
built with the donation of Eumenes II, King of Pergamum.
133 BC, in conformity with the will of Attalus III of
Pergamum, the Anatolia lands were attached to Rome. The
cities which came under the Roman system of "Provincia
Asia" in 129 BC, were preparing for revolt because of
the excessivity of Roman taxes and the attacks of pirates
Mithradates, King of Pontus, took advantege of this
situation and was received as a saviour when he came to West
Anatolian cities which were displeased with Roman rule All
Roman citizens resident in the province of Asia (about
80,000 people) were massacred in one day, in the revolt
started under the leadership of Mithradates.
the revolt was subdued shortly afterwards with the
intervention of Rome Mithridates was punished by Sulla who
took over the rule again. In the year 63 BC Miletus sided
with the Romans in the war against he pirates, which
resulted in victory, and gained sympathy from Rome because
of the help it provided, the city received special attention
from the Roman Emperors in 38 BC, with the recognition of it
beeing autonomous, Miletus once again made a good progress
and reached the level of metropolis throughout Ionian
cities. Good relations begun with Augustus continued through
the periods of Tiberius, Trajan, Antoninus Pius, and
Septimus Severus, Many monumental structures such as the
theatre, the baths of Faustina and Capito, the Nymphaneum,
and the north gate of the South Agora were built during this
period. Starting with the 3rd century AD, this brilliant
period began to gradually decline.
city began to be abandoned as the harbours silted up, the
surrounding area turned into marshland and malaria reached
the Byzantine period, the city boundaries were quite
reduced, and buildings were mostly clustered around the
theatre. The walls were rebuilt and some buildings were
restored. Efforts made towards progress in the 6th century
AD did not last long.
region was subjected to Turkish assaults after the battle of
Malazgirt (1071) and gradually weakened. On coins issued by
the Menteşe emir (prince) Orhan Bey in his name, the city
is mentioned as Palatia. Miletus later came under the rule
of the Principality of Menteşeoğulları, founded in 1279
in the Carian region, and it retained that status until the
Ottoman period The city flourished again under the Menteşe
emir Ilyas Bey and a great number of baths and mosques were
built The name of Palatia was changed into Balat. There was
also a revival in commerce during this period.
1424 Balat was taken inside the boundaries of the Ottoman
Empire by Murat II. During the time that elapsed until the
proclamation of the Republic, the city gradually turned into
a village and was completely abandoned in the 17th century.
village of Balat, Iying within the ruins of Miletus, was
destroyed completely in the earthquake of 1955 and was moved
into the new settlement area, about 1 km to the south of
Miletus. A big section of the new village of Balat lies on
top of the necropolis.
AND RESEARCH WORK
on Miletus began in 1446 with the traveller Cyriacus. Evliya
Çelebi who visited the city in 1670, stated in his work
"The Book of Travels", that Miletus, which once
took its place as being among the most important cities of
the ancient world, was completely in ruins.
found indicate that research work had been carried out by
various scientists in the beginnings of the 17th, 18th and
Haussoullier, O Rayet and A Thomas, who made excavations in
the Didymaion, are also among the persons who participated
in research work on Miletus.
plan of the city was first drawn by C Humann.
were first begun in 1899 under Th. Weigand for the Berlin
Museum. Excavation work, interrupted during the First World
War, was later carried on under Carl Weickert and G Kleiner.
At present, excavations and restoration work are going on
under the supervision of Professor Dr. Müller Wiener for
the German Institute of Archaeology.
LOCATION OF THE CITY
situated near the village of Balat in the present district
of Söke and no longer a harbour city, was founded on a
peninsula, approximately 2.5 km long. The peninsula had four
harbours, three on the west side, and one the east. The
harbours on the west, mentioned in archeological literature
as the Lions' Theatre and Athena Harbours, were better
situated for protection.
of its narrow entrance, the Lions' Harbour was the most
suitable for protection. The harbour, named after the stone
lions on either side of its entrance, is at present
completely silted up and has become marshland. The lions'
statues, symbolically guarding the harbour, were made in the
Hellenistic period and still stand in their original places.
The West Harbour, lying just in front of the theatre, to the
south of the Athena Temple and to the east of the island of
Lade, is also silted up with alluvial mud brought by the
the city was rebuilt after the defeat by the Persians in 494
BC, the settlement was clustered around the Lions Harbour.
plan of the city was designed by Hippodamus of Miletus,
arcihtect and town planner. It is known that Hippodamus and
first applied to his home city the grid plan which he had
developed on inspiration from geometrically designed
settlements, and that later many cities were laid out
according to this plan. Miletus, which is a fine example of
the grid plan, comprises houses on blocks created by streets
and side streets crossing at right angles, with public
buildings in the city centre, This plan retained in the
Hellenistic period, however in the Roman period it began to
deteriorate gradually and inevitably. The remains of the
city of Miletus, which suffered great destruction caused by
wars, earthquakes, silting up of harbours, and each period
destroying the one before, display quite a complex
structure. Almost in every building characteristics of
different periods can be seen.
where for centuries very different settlements and cultures
had existed, displays wall remains which differ widely in
construction and location.
remains from the earliest walls lie under the foundations of
the Athena Temple and date from the years 1600-1400 BC.
These will be mentioned with the Athena Temple.
section of the Archaic walls was uncovered in the lower
parts of the south and south-east slopes of the hill of
Kalabaktepe. These walls indicate two separate periods as
their construction techniques are different. The southern
walls were constructed in poligonal technique and can be
dated back to 650 BC. The fact that one does not come across
early Archaic walls in the lower city indicates that Miletus
was at this time not protected by walls, and that in the
defence of the city, Kalabaktepe Hill played an important
role as its acropolis. To the south-east of the hill, wall
remains made of stone blocks can be dated back to 550 BC
according to their construction technique. The remains of a
tower and city walls running just in front of the theatre
are also understood to have been built at the same date,
which fact is evidence that the whole city was in this
period surrounded by walls.
the disaster of 494 BC, Miletus could not recover for a long
time. However, in the intense reconstruction work which was
begun in the 3rd century BC, the walls were also worked on.
The construction of the Hellenistic walls were continued
into the 2nd century BC. A section of these can be seen to
the south of the Lions Harbour and to the west of the
stadium, and a beautiful example is in front of the theatre.
The southern extension of the walls was uncovered in the
excavations and nine towers were identified in this section
of about 500 metres. Standing at 60 meterintervals, the
towers each had a separate door and were of a very strong
construction. The 8th and 9th towers standing closer
together give evidence of the existence of a gate in between
them (the Sacred Gate). One other gate of the city lies in
the direction of the south-east corner of the South Agora.
the Roman period, the Sacred Gate was rebuilt ard certain
sections of the walls were repaired.
really important change in the walls is seen in the
Byzantine period. In this period, as the harbours had
completely turned into marshland, the city boundaries were
kept quite small and the walls were rebuilt in accordance
with these boundaries. Architectural elements from a great
number of buildings of Miletus were used as construction
material for the Early Byzantine walls, which according to
inscriptions were built by Justinian in 538 AD.