Miletus Ancient City





The area between the Gulf of Izmir to the north and the Gulf of Akuk to the south including the islands of Chios, (Sakiz) and Samos (Sisam) is the Iona of the ancient world. Here is the city of Miletos, with the peak of Mykale (Samson) to its north and the Latmos (Beþparmak) Mountains to its east. Herodotus referred to Miletos as the jewel of the Ionian cities. In modern terms, Miletos lies within the Province of Aydin, 93 kilometers (150 miles) from Aydin itself, 38 kilometers (61 miles) from the town of Söke.

The exact origin of the name "Iona " is uncertain. The Old Testament of the Bible refers to "Yavan", ancient Persian writings have "Yauna", and the Assyrians speak of "Yavani" All are possibilities. As to the etymological origin of the name "Miletos", in the Hittite texts the names "Milawanda", "Milawanda" and "Milada" are accepted as being connected. But the Island of Crete has a town called "Milatos" which could lead to another train of thought.

In the age of antiquity the city of Miletos was by the sea, situated on the south side of the Gulf of Latmos where Gulf opens out into the Aegean. Over a period of time the Maiandros River silted up the Gulf from the north - west side, creating a flat plain and an inland lake that is known today as Bafa Lake. The Island of Lade where the famous naval battle was fought, off the coast to the south of Miletos, is now just a hill a few kilometres walk from the city. As the southern boundary of the city area isa peninsula named after the god Poseidon. It is here that Neleus, the legendary founder of the city, gave thanks to the gods for his victory. Today only a few remains can be found to bear witness to this once sacred place where now a lighthouse stands.

"Miletos" appears as a character in mythology, a son of the god Apollo himself. The story goes as follows. Apollo fell in love with Akakallis, the daughter of King Minos of Crete. Their union resukted in the birth of three children, Miletos, Garamos, and Amphimenis. Akakallis feared that her father , the King, might harm her first born, Miletos and so, for safety, took him up a mountain and left him there. Wolves tended the baby, and later he grew up among the shepherds. In manhood Miletos came to Anatolia and married Kyane, the daughter of Maiandros, the river-god. He founded the city that bears his name. Miletos and Kyane had two sons, Kaunos and Byblis, both of whom also went on to found cities. But as mentioned, according to tradition, Neleus leader of the Ionians and the son of King Kodros of Athens, is the person who is credited with the founding of the city of Miletos. It si quite possible that the Greeks indeed did settle in the area as far back as 11th or 10th centuries BC, but we also know that there were already native people living there who probably came from Caria.

These people are said to have come to the aid of the Trojans and their sense of territory and belonging is made plain in the quotation from the Iliad. "Nastes, leading the Carian assault and speaking harshly, stated that they, the Carians lived in Miletos, on the banks of the Maiandros, at the foot of the high peak of Mykale". According to Herodotus, the invading Ionians slew all the male inhabitants of Mi;etos and then married the widows. These women, (not surprisingly!), it was said, did not talk to their husbands, would not eat at the same table and did not want to stay with them. Apparently this state of affairs continued for a long time. From finds of stone hand axes and other artefacts on nearby Killik Tepe we understand that there were settlements in Miletos in the Neolithic Age.

An important Mycenaean colony existed in Miletos from the middle of the second millennium BC, as confirmed by excavation which has brought to light ceramic and architectural material. The earliest construction of a settlement took place on Kalabak Tepe and today evidence of this can be seen on the south-west side of the hill. In the 7th and 6th centuries BC, Miletos reached its golden age. From about 650 BC the city's sea trading prospered, especially, and colonies were founded on both the Black Sea and the Mediterranean which created a period of great wealth. According to Pliny, a total of 90 colonies were founded.


  • Didim

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