Miletus Ancient Greece was one of the great Ionian cities in southwestern Asia Minor. Homer refers to the people of Milieus as Cambrians. They fought against the Achaean (Greeks) in the Trojan War. Later traditions have Ionian settlers taking the land from the Cambrians.

This city itself sent off settlers to the Black Sea area, as well as the Hellespont. In 499 This city led the Ionian revolt that was a contributing factor in the Persian Wars.

Miletus Ancient Greece

Ancient Greece Miletus: Timeline

Miletus’s was destroyed 5 years later. Then in 479, It joined the Delian League, and in 412 Miletus revolted from Athenian control offering a naval base to the Spartans. Alexander the Great conquered Miletus’s in 334 B.C.; then in 129, It became part of the Roman province of Asia. In the 3rd Century A.D., Goths attacked Miletus, but the city continued, waging an ongoing fight against the silting of its harbor.

Sally Goetsch (of Didaskalia) provided notes for this article. Her references are in the parentheses. The Minoans abandoned their colony in Miletus by 1400 BC. Mycenaean Miletus was a dependency or ally of Ahhiwaya (Achaea) though its population was mostly Carian.

Shortly after 1300 BC, the settlement was destroyed by fire — probably at the instigation of the Hittites who knew the city as Millawanda. The Hittites fortified the city against possible naval attacks by the Greeks. (Huxley 16-18)

Miletus Ancient Greece

This city was regarded as the oldest of the Ionian settlements, though this claim was disputed by Ephesus. Unlike its near neighbors, Ephesus and Smyrna, It was protected from landward assaults by a mountain range and developed early as a sea power.

Miletus early Greek Philosopher

During the 6th century, Miletus contested (unsuccessfully) with Samos for possession of Priene. In addition to producing philosophers and historians, the city was famous for its purple dye, its furniture, and the quality of its wool.

The Milesians made their own terms with Cyrus during his conquest of Ionia, though they joined in the rebellion of 499. The city did not fall to the Persians until 494 at which time the Ionian Revolt was considered to be well and truly over. (Emlyn-Jones 17-18)

Miletus Ancient Greece

Though Miletus was originally ruled by a king the monarchy was overthrown early on. Around 630 BCE a tyranny evolved from its elected (but oligarchic) chief magistracy the prytaneis.

The most famous Milesian tyrant was Thrasybulus who bluffed Alyattes out of attacking his city. After the fall of Thrasybulus, there came a period of blood stasis and it was during this period that Anaximander formulated his theory of opposites. (Emlyn-Jones 29-30)

When the Persians finally sacked Miletus in 494 they enslaved most of the population and deported them to the Persian Gulf, but there were enough survivors to play a decisive part in the battle of Mycale in 479 (Cimon’s liberation of Ionia). The city itself, however, was completely razed. (Emlyn-Jones 34-5)

Miletus Map

Miletus Ancient Greece

This city, though one of the most famous ports of antiquity is now ‘marooned in an alluvial delta’. By the middle of the 5th century, it had recovered from Xerxes’ attack and was a contributing member of the Delian League.

The 5th-century city was designed by the architect Hippodamas, a native of this city, and some of the extant remain date from that period. The present form of the theatre dates to 100 A.D., but it had existed in an earlier form. It seats 15,000 and faces what used to be the harbor.

More info on- Miletus’s government, city planning, revolt, in the bible