Inhabited since the 3rd millennium BC, it maintained relations with the Cyclades. A Middle Bronze Age Minoan colony (1700-1500 BC) with important architectural remains, wall-paintings and pottery, it developed into a flourishing Mycenaean settlement (1400-1100 BC), with a mighty wall reinforced with towers, and houses of megaron plan, to the S of the temple of Athena. A Mycenaean cemetery at neighbouring Değirmentepe (1300-1100 BC).
A coastal metropolis of the Ionian world with two harbours, nowadays silted up. According to mythological tradition Miletus was founded by Neleus, son of King Kodros of Athens, in the 11th-10th century BC. It was the home of Greek natural philosophers such as Thales of Miletus, Anaximander, Anaximenes, the historiographer Hekataios and the town-planner Hippodamos, whose rectangular grid system it follows. Impressive ruins can be seen today, primarily from the Hellenistic and Roman city that grew up after the destruction of the Archaic city by the Persians in 494 BC. An Archaic settlement on Kalabak Tepe hill, SW of the city. Defensive walls of the Archaic and Hellenistic periods. A 5th-century BC temple of Athena and a Delphinion, sanctuary of Apollo, dating from Archaic into Roman times. Agoras of Classical to Roman times, stoas, a stadium and gymnasium of the Hellenistic period, and a monumental bouleuterion complex from the reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175-164 BC). The city's theatre, which could accommodate 15,000 spectators, is the largest on the W coast of Asia Minor (4th century BC till Roman times). It acquired a multi-storey skene building in the 2nd century AD. This structure, together with the nymphaion and the famous N gate of the south agora, nowadays restored in the Pergamonmuseum, Berlin, are characteristic examples of the monumental architecture of façades in the 2nd century AD. Noteworthy complexes of Roman baths inside the city (Faustina's Thermae) and outside it (Humei Tepe, 2nd century AD). A local archaeological museum.
On Cape Posideion (Monodendri) are the foundations of a marble altar to Poseidon (6th century BC).
The decline into which the city fell between the 4th and 6th centuries was interrupted during the reign of Justinian I (527-565). In 556 Miletus was promoted to an autocephalous archbishopric. The old metropolitan church (c. 500) and the baths were rebuilt, and new projects undertaken in the harbour. In the square of the bouleuterion are ruins of a large three-aisled basilica ('Megale Ekklesia'), most probably a metropolis, with baptistery and rotunda mausoleum with five conches at the E end of the S aisle. Mosaic floors and marble decoration of exceptional art (early 7th century). S of the agora, by the harbour, on the site of a sanctuary of Dionysos, are the ruins of an Early Christian three-aisled basilica, a baptistery and a bishop's palace. According to an inscription, it was built while Kyriakos was Patriarch of Constantinople (6th century). Preserved in the palace are the earliest mosaics with pictorial representations in W Asia Minor. Numerous finds of the Early Christian period.
Finds from the site are exhibited in the Istanbul and İzmır archaeological museums.Wikidata ID: Q169460
Info: Archaeological Atlas of the Aegean
(Archaeological Atlas of the Aegean, Ministry of the Aegean)