The 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.

The 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.

The 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.

Excavations 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.

According 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.

All 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.

It is understood from the structure of the city walls revealed in the excavations that the Archaic city acropolis was on the hill of Kalabaktepe.

Our insufficient knowledge of these periods will gain in clarity only in the continuation of the excavations and research.

Although 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.

Due 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.

At 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.

After 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 rule.

However 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 the city.

Severe 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.

Help 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 .

Miletus 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.

In 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 rule again.

The 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.

In 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.

A 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 east.

After 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.

In 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.

However 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.

The city began to be abandoned as the harbours silted up, the surrounding area turned into marshland and malaria reached dangerous proportions.

In 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.

The 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.

In 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.

The 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.


Research 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.

Publications found indicate that research work had been carried out by various scientists in the beginnings of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

B Haussoullier, O Rayet and A Thomas, who made excavations in the Didymaion, are also among the persons who participated in research work on Miletus.

The plan of the city was first drawn by C Humann.

Excavations 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.


Miletus, 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.

Because 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 Maeander river.

When the city was rebuilt after the defeat by the Persians in 494 BC, the settlement was clustered around the Lions Harbour.

The 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.


Miletus, where for centuries very different settlements and cultures had existed, displays wall remains which differ widely in construction and location.

The 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.

A 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.

After 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.

In the Roman period, the Sacred Gate was rebuilt ard certain sections of the walls were repaired.

The 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.