The origins and earliest history of Milets are still a subject of controversy. The name “Milawanda” that occurs in Hittite texts may well refer to Miletus. The excavations undertaken so far have reached as far as the Bronze Age. The first excavations were conducted by the German archaeologist Theodor Wiegand but these were several times interrupted by wars and various other events. Excavations were resumed by Gerhard Kleiner and continued by Werner MüllerWiener.
Miletos is one of the oldest cities of Ionia, located north of Soke, about 60 km away from Kusadasi. The city was on the point where the Buyuk Menderes (“Meander”) flew into the Aegean Sea. Because of the alluviums, Miletos has been remote several times from sea, which explains that one can see today different harbors.
Miletos was also the city of many scientists and philosophers such as Thales, Anaximander, Hekataios (principle source to Herodotos) and closer to us, Isidorus, the architect of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.Miletos had its alphabet recognized by the Greek world as the official Greek alphabet, basis of the current Latin alphabet.
In the Xth BC, Miletos has been invaded by Ionians and the city reached its apogee in the VIIth and VIth centuries and developed in one of the most significant cities of Ionia. In 494 BC, the Tyran (prince – governor) of Miletos, Aristagoras, started the “Ionia Rebellion” against the Persians where they collected some success at first but at the end lost the war. The Persians demolished the city and sent its habitants to Mesopotamia. In 344 BC, Alexander the Great invaded the city and had its trade redeveloped.
In 200 BC, Miletos became the dominion of the Myceneans, fact that is shown by the style of the ceramics in the houses and the city walls. During the Roman Empire, it became an independent city and later a bishopric at early Christian times. During the Byzantine period Miletos was called “Ania”. As of that time, due to geographic and climatic changes, the city completely lost of its importance and was to be abandoned.
In antiquity Miletos possessed a horbor at the southern entry of a large bay, on which two more of the traditional twelve Ionian cities stood: Priene and Myus. The harbor of Miletus was additionally protected by the nearby small island of Lade. Over the centuries the gulf silted up with alluvium carried by the Meander River.
It was a leader in culture and art, and produced the philosophers Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximenes.
The most important monuments to be seen at Miletos are: the Bath of Faustina, the Delphinion (small temple dedicated to Apollo Delphinion, protector of ships and harbors) and the amphitheater.