Miletus was an ancient Greek city located on the western coast of Anatolia, was situated close to the mouth of the Maeander River in Ionia. The remains of Miletus are located close to the present-day town of Balat in the Aydın Province of Turkey. Miletus was regarded as one of the most significant and prosperous cities in Greece before the Persian occupation that began in the sixth century BCE.
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The city was a significant economic and cultural hub in the eastern Aegean and served as the birthplace of early natural philosophers like Thales and Anaximander. Miletus was also linked to the central Anatolian high plateau through the Maeander valley.
In the fifth century BCE, Miletus led an unsuccessful revolt of Greek Ionian cities against Persian rule and was destroyed in retribution. Despite this setback, Miletus enjoyed renewed prosperity during the Hellenistic and Roman imperial periods, leading to the construction of many grand marble buildings. The city was cut off from the open sea during late antiquity due to continuous siltation of the Maeander delta, resulting in annual flooding of the city center. However, the harbour remained functional and could be accessed through the river.
Buildings from the Byzantine and Turkish eras were constructed on higher levels than the ancient city center. Excavations started in 1899 CE, led by the Imperial Museums in Berlin, the German Archaeological Institute, Ruhr University in Bochum, and various international partners and sponsors.
circa 498 – 408 BCE
The Hippodamian City Plan
Ancient sources ascribe the orthogonal street grid plan of Miletus to Hippodamus, who helped to reconstruct the city after the Persian destruction in 494 BCE. However, this is not entirely correct, as archaeological investigations have shown; the street grid does in fact predate the Persian destruction and was originally laid out already in the Archaic period. Hippodamus did not invent a new system, but contined an earlier tradition.
circa 100 BCE
Hellenistic Heroon (I)
The Heroon I dates from the Hellenistic period, around 100 BCE, and is one of the oldest mausolea in the city. It measures 34x29 meters and occupies an entire block or insula. It is centred on an underground burial chamber (crypt) that is accessible via a narrow corridor, a so-called dromos, from the east. The western (rear) wall of the vaulted grave chamber contains five niches or loculi (inspect) for burials. Other rooms on ground floor level wereprobably used for funeral banquets. The Hellenistic date is based on ceramics that were excavated in these rooms, and on marble ornaments. The large size of the monument and its elevated, highly visible location made for an extremely privileged burial place that probably belonged to one of the city's leading families.
circa 50 CE
The Ionic stoa forms a colonnade of Ionic order that in appox. 99 meters long, nine meters high, and includes a row of chambers at the back. The colonnade also formed the main entrance to the Baths of Capito to the north-east and hida Hellenistic peristyle to the south-east. In addition, the portico served as covered grand-stand and ornamental backdrop during various ceremonious processions on the street in front of it. A building inscription mentions Gnaeus Vergilius Capito, a senior official who lived in the middle of the first century CE and initiated the construction.
circa 50 CE
Baths of Capito
The baths of Capito consist of a peristyle court to the west, the so-called palaestra, and the bath chambers to the east. The courtyard contains a swimming pool or natatio that would have mirrored the sophisticated facade of the bath rooms with two colonnaded storeys on a curving plan. The bath-chambers became progressively hotter towards the east, with the largest and hottest caldarium at the end of the row. Towards the south follows a circular domed hall with a central basi that would haveserved as sweat-bath or sudatorium. The building inscription of the Ionic stoa that served as vestibule of the baths relates theat the complex was donated by office Gnaeus Vergilius Capito around the middle of the first century CE.
circa 81 CE
The Nymphaeum of Miletus was a monumental fountain, constructed during the reign of emperor Titus (79-81 CE). The building marks one end of the aqueduct that supplied the city with fresh water from the hills to the south. The last arches of the aqueduct are still standing behind the fountain house and connect directly to the water-works of the nymphaeum. Towards the Agora the nymphaeum of Miletus used to present a splendid marble facade; some elements of which can still be seen laidout in front of the building. The facade of the nymphaeum was three storys tall with 17 niches; all of which were adorned with statues.
circa 100 CE
The Roman era theatre, constructed during the reign of emperor Trajan (reigned 98-117 CE), replaced the earlier Hellenistic period theatre, which had the capacity of about 5300 spectators. The Roman era monumental building had three galleries, with a height of fourty meters, could hold up to fifteen thousand people at a time. The theatre was situated at the shoreline of the meanwhile silted harbour bay. From the very beginning, the orchestra was also designed for gladiatorial and animal fights. During the period of late antiquity, circa 280 till 560 CE, the great theatre was converted in to a fortification and citadel (stronghold) was built at the highest place to protect it.
circa 150 CE
The Market Gate of Miletus, which is a monumental marble structure, was constructed in the second century CE in the Roman Miletus. It was destroyed in an earthquake between the tenth and eleventh century CE. In the beginning of the 1900s, it was discovered and reconstructed by a German archaeological group. Today it one of the most notable exhibitions at the Berlin museum.
The two-level edifice comprises of three entrances and several projections and niches. Intricately designed friezes exhibiting floral and bull motifs are present at the roof level and in the inter-floor area. Corinthian and Composite columns support the overhanging pediments of the structure. However, the gate is not entirely in its original form as the base and lower floor could not withstand the test of time, and substitutes such as brick, cement, and steel were used. Iron girders have been utilized to secure the gate to the wall behind it. During its existence in Miletus, statues of emperors, some of whom were in combat with barbarians, were located in the niches on the second floor.
circa 150 CE
Temple of Serapis and Byzantine Era Gate
The Serapeum, temple of Serapis, was a temple dedicated to the Egyptian-Hellenistic god Serapis (Apis bull) whose cult is attested at Miletus since the first half of the second century CE. The foundation walls and some columns of a three-aisled cella are extant. The main entrance was from the south, through a porch; its pediment with a bust of Serapis; his damaged head surrounded by the rays of sun - has been reconstructed opposite the porch's stepped platform. During the Byzantine times, the porch became part of a new set of city walls and like the Market Gate served as decoration of the a fortified city gate. The porch was flanked by two more doors and thus became the central showpiece of a tripartite gate that formed the largest and the most ornate access to the Byzantine city.
circa 170 CE
Baths of Faustina
The Baths of Faustina was the largest bath and sports complex in Miletus constructed during the Roman era. Established by Faustina the Younger, who was the wife to emperor Aurelius (161-180 CE). During the period of Late Antiquity the building was used as part of the city fortifications.
circa 210 CE
Roman Heroon (III)
The Roman era Heroon (heroön), designated as the Heroon III, is the largest intra-urban mausoleum in ancient Miletus and like the Heroon I occupies an entire block or insula. The central location and an elaborate design indicate that in important person was buried here. The complex consists of a rectangular courtyard that was surrunded by colonnades. Inside this peristyle stood a square burial chamber with a barrel vaulted roof. A hollow marble socie or hyposorion that is almost completely preserved served as a pedestal for a graland sarcophagus. Other sarcophagi could have stood in niches along the walls. The ornamentation of the marble carvings as well as other findings during archaeological excavations date the mausoleum to the beginning of the third century CE.
circa 625 CE
Church of Saint Michael and the Temple of Dionysus
The Church of St. Michael was a three-aisled basilica. An inscription relates that it was built in the early seventh century CE and served as the palace chapel for the episcopal residence. The base of a marble pulpit (ambo) occupies the centre of the nave. The aisles were separated by colonnades. The north and west walls of the church stood on fine ashlar foundations that originally belonged to a small antae temple of Dionysus. From the archaeological remains the temple can be reconstructed in Ionic style and is dated to the Hellenistic period.
circa 1250 CE
The mosque consists of a single square room with sides close to fifteen meters in length. The function of the structure is evident from a mihrab niche in the center of the southern wall, indicating the prescribed direction of prayer (qibla) towards the holy city of Mecca. The building takes its name from four ancient column shafts that were used to support the roof. The mosque stands on its own, isolated from other Turkish era buildings further downhill in the flat area of the ancient town center and may have served the garrison that was stationed in the citadel. This and the plain and simple architecture point to a relatively early construction date, perhaps in the mid-thirteenth century CY. A minaret with spiral staircase on the south side was added later.
circa 1403 CE
Ilyas Bey Mosque
The mosque, known as the "Great mosque" or the "Friday Mosque", is one of the most famous domed mosques dating back to the Emirate period with its architectural form, characteristic facade, stone processing and construction technique. The mosque is located to the south of a courtyard with a fountain, which is bordered on thress sides by the remains of buildings of the medrese (Islamic institution of learning).
The Ilyas Bey mosque stands out for its rich stone decor. The main entrance, the prayer niche and all the window gables are decorated with plant and geometric ornaments and elements. Coloured stones and ceramic inlays have been used. In addition to the building inscription, eleven religious texts can be seen.
circa 1300 CE
Mosque of the Fourty Steps
The mosque dates back to the fourteenth century CE and consists of a rectangular room (inspect) with interior dimensions of 16x20 meters. A separately added, high, stepped platform at the south-west corner gave the mosque its name. The platform served as minaret for the call to prayer five times a day. Such stepped platforms, instead of towers or minarets with spiral staircases, were more common in the Beylik of Mentese.
circa 1300 CE
The bath-house on the other side of the street is preserved up to the springing of its domes. Four cross-arms (cruciform) centred on a central domed crossing forming the hot part. Four separate rooms in the diagonals complete the cross to a square. A longitudinal vestibule in the north served as the entrance. Three additional vaulted rooms on the eastern side could also be entered from the south and may have served as a separate section for women. The bath's proximity to the "mosque of the fourty steps" suggests that the buildings were built together as part of the same religious foundation (waqf).
The main sanctuary of Miletus since the archaic times, erected in honor of Apollon Delphinios (the dolphin was an animal sacred to Apollon). The architectural remains date from the Hellenistic and Roman periods. The round base preserved in the center of the courtyard probably belongs to a heroon from Roman times.
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