A harbor city in
SW Asia Minor at the mouth of the Maiandros river and
now 9 km from the sea. According to Strabo (14.1.6;
) it was founded by Cretans from Milatos (E Mallia) and then resettled by Ionians under Neleus. These reports have been confirmed by the excavations.
Between the founding and refounding of the city, Mycenaean Achaeans occupied it, and to this period belong
the great bastioned walls perhaps erected against the Hittites and destroyed by the Camians, who led Milesian troops against the Greeks in the Trojan War (Hom. Il
Early in the 1st millennium B.C. Miletos was the most
important and probably the largest settlement in the
league of the 12 Ionian cities, and it was surpassed in
this role by Ephesos only after the Ionian rebellion and
the destruction by the Persians (Hdt. 6.18f
f) in 494 B.C.
After a decisive sea battle in front of Miletos near the
island of Lade (Batmas), the city was destroyed (Hdt.
In archaic times Miletos extended from the Kalabak
tepe 60 m high, presumed to be the seat of the tyrants,
to the NE and the so-called Harbor of the Bay of Lions,
one of the harbors mentioned by Strabo (loc. cit.
center was situated from the earliest times around the
Athena temple in the NW between the so-called Theater
Harbor and the large bay (Athena Harbor) that extended to the Kalabak tepe. Following the Persian wars, the center shifted to the so-called N market on the Bay of Lions whence in the spring of each year processions
made their departure from the Sanctuary of Apollo
Delphinios to the Apollo temple of Didyma, 18 km
distant. The first section of the processional route was
transformed in Roman times into a magnificent street:
halls of columns, a three-story fountain structure, the
Nymphaeum, and a two-story gate on the N side of the
still unexcavated S market.
The excavations have so far produced only an initial
evaluation of archaic Milesian art work: whether ceramics, plastic arts. or architecture. Concerning architecture and city planning, however, it is certain that the system of streets intersecting one another at right angles
and named after the Milesian, Hippodamos, had already
been used in the archaic period. Perhaps the system was
developed in the city's colonies, of which it is supposed to
have sent out 90—especially on the Marmara and Black
Sea (cf. Strab. loc. cit.; Plin. HN
5.112). With the reconstruction begun in 479 B.C. by Hippodamos, the system was carried out throughout his native city.
The reconstruction of the city, which began with the
shrines of Athena and of Apollo Delphinios, extended
over a long period. Built upon at least two earlier edifices from archaic and prehistoric (Mycenaean) times, the Classical Athena temple received a new orientation from S to N and took the form of an Ionic peripteros
with a double vestibule laid out upon a terrace. It has
not been definitely determined whether the Delphinion
had any pre-Persian predecessors. Not until the time of
Alexander the Great were the city walls completed.
Independent not only from the Persian king, but also
from its own tyrants, Miletos became a member of the
Attic League in the 5th c. B.C. and maintained its alliance
with Athens in the Peloponnesian war until Alkibiades
succeeded in withdrawing Athens in 412 B.C. (Thuc.
f). Thereafter and until its subjugation by Alexander
the Great in 334 B.C. (Arr. 1.18f), Miletos was the base
of the Persian king or of Persian Satraps (Maussolos ?)
and important because of its maritime position.
In the confusion among Alexander's successors the city
was a point of dispute, especially between the Diadochs
and the Epigones, but it was also possessed by local
tyrants such as Asandros (314-313 B.C., cf. Diod. 19.75
or by Timarchos, the Aetolian (mound grave on the E
slope of the theater hill ?). The city was freed from
Timarchos by Antiochos II, who was for this reason
named “Theos” (cf. App. Syr
Whether Asandros is connected with Miletos through
the founding of Heraklea at Latmos, whose fortifications
were most likely completed by Pleistarchos, is a question
that must remain unanswered until the excavation of the
city. [In the “Results of the Excavations and Investigations, etc.” only the fortifications and the Christian cloisters of Heraklea are discussed (M III 1 and 2).] It is also uncertain whether the Milesian brothers Timarchos and
Herakleides, who built the bouleuterion for Antiochos
IV Epiphanes, are descendants of the tyrant Timarchos.
The design is important in the history of art as an early
axial symmetrical composition: it includes a building at
right angles to the main axis with an audience room
similar to a theater and covered with an extensive wooden
ceiling without center support, and in front of it a court
hall with a Corinthian columned vestibule.
Along with the Seleucids, especially the Attalid
Eumenes II of Pergamon stands out as a builder, founding the Gymnasium and most likely also the stadium and
honored by a gilded bronze statue upon a large round
basis. The Gymnasium, preserved only in a Roman reconstruction, has not been excavated. Older predecessors of the stadium have as yet not been established. The plan of the W gate is in any case by Eumenes with eastern
characteristics and of the period of late antiquity. Its
drainage system is still readily recognizable today.
Miletos' relationships with the Romans were less
fortunate. The city was late with its introduction of the
cult of Roma, namely, after the establishment of the
Province Asia 133 B.C. Consequently, even under
Tiberius in A.D. 26, Miletos was regarded as inferior to
Smyrna as the choice for the site of a temple for the
emperor (cf. Tac. Ann
. 4.56). The city ranked below
Ephesos, the seat of the governor, and also below
Pergamon, the site of the emperor cult [cf. author, Das
At the time of Mithridates VI Eupator, Miletos was
apparently unreliable and consequently deprived of its
freedom, which the city first recovered from Mark
Antony in 38 B.C. A retrogression in its development is
also indicated by the fact that after 100 B.C. a new
strongly fortified city wall crossed directly through the
old housing section, which thus appears to have been
reduced by half.
A new blossoming was achieved first under Trajan,
who dedicated to his father the grandiose Nymphaeum
with its tabernacle-type architecture inspired by theater
facades. He also completed the processional street from
the sanctified gate in the S of the city up to Didyma
(100-101). Above all, the city was indebted to Marcus
Aurelius' wife Faustina. Most likely because of her
sojourn there in A.D. 164, she made generous donations
for the baths named after her and perhaps was also
concerned with the completion of the large Roman theater—both the best-preserved ruins in the city. The Baths
of Faustina, because of their asymmetrical spatial composition, are especially noteworthy by comparison with
the corresponding baths in Rome and elsewhere in the
west. The theater, repeatedly reconstructed, was designed
for at least 15,000 spectators. The third upper level was
removed for use in a mediaeval castle.
Clearly belonging to the late period of antiquity is the
Serapeum lying next to the S market; in its design it
anticipated the Early Christian churches—the Basilica
of St. Michael and the so-called Bishop's Church. These
in themselves attest to the importance of the post-Classical Miletos, which built its Gothic and Justinian walls upon those of the Hellenistic city and as a final Byzantine bulwark the theater castle Palati (Balat).
Since the description in this entry is chronological, a
few directions to help locate the various monuments follow. From the theater, the most conspicuous landmark, one looks E and S over the area of the North Market with the Delphinion, Baths of Capito, Nymphaeum,
Bouleuterion, South Market, and adjacent buildings. To
the S of the theater lies the Stadium; and the W, the
West Market and the Temple of Athena. Between the
South Market and the stadium are the Baths of Faustina.
The three markets have a natural relationship with the
four harbors of the town, yet it does not follow that the
oldest market is situated at the oldest harbor, that of the
theater. Moreover, market does not necessarily mean
market-place. To what an extent Miletos was a harbor
town even in comparison with Ephesos can be learned
from the role of its markets. Accordingly, at the planning of the new town an important area was set aside for what we call the North Market. It is the oldest
market-place, the oldest known agora of Miletos.
The West Market
The long market-place N of the
Athena Temple, oriented E-W, is the latest of the
Milesian market complexes so far known. It was built at
a time when it could encroach on the great Athena
Temple, cutting at last into its terraces. The architectural
forms suggest a date at the end of the Hellenistic period.
The North Market
In the new planning after the Persian destruction, space was left for the North Market. To begin with, only stoas, sheds, and other related buildings arose beside unbuilt areas. The so-called Blood Inscription was erected in the North Market.
The South Market
The largest of all yet known agoras,
not only of Miletos but also of the entire Greek world,
has unfortunately only been investigated by soundings
however intensive these have been. Whether the huge
area of 33,000 sq. m was planned from the very beginning as the official market is doubtful.
The complex was used in the Roman period especially
for formal functions and underwent important reconstruction. Thus in the oldest part, the E portico, statue bases were set up in front of the interior columns. Even the latter also belong to the reconstruction. In addition,
the market became for Roman emperors a place for numerous dedications as it had been for Hellenistic rulers.
The E portico is a trading house laid out to utilize
best the space available. From its revenue the building
of the Didymaion was supposed to be financed. An inscription found in Didyma in which a στοά σταδ́αια
“in the town” (that is, in Miletos), is mentioned is obviously to be connected with it. Its exterior length
measures 196.45 m, its interior 189.20 m, and thus it
corresponds in size to a stadium.
Gates closed off only in later times the road entrances,
which are characteristic of Greek agoras. The S gate, of
which no trace remains today, is Roman. A simple
passage, its width must have been spanned by an arch.
The Market Gate has become world famous through
its reerection in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. In situ
only the three originally open passageways can be recognized between the four socles of the Corinthian columns of the superstructure. The facade measures ca. 29 m in length.
A tower of the wall of Justinian was placed in front of
the S side of the W passage. This late fortification rested
on the N and W walls of the South Market.
The gate rose two stories high over three steps in contrast to the adjoining stoas of the market. It was conceived wholly as a facade. A passage for vehicles does not seem to have existed here earlier as far as can be told
today. However the shift in relation to the Sacred Way
and the widening of the place in front of the market gate,
both already in existence, were now utilized to increased
The date derives not only from the style of the
acanthus ornament but also from the figural decoration
of the upper story. Here the figure of an emperor in
cuirass attracts attention. Next to it kneels a barbarian
in trousers, obviously a Parthian, which suggests the
campaign of Lucius Verus (162-165), the co-emperor
with Marcus Aurelius.
The Athena Temple
This sanctuary, the oldest in the
town, is in the area that was settled first, just S of the
Late Hellenistic tomb building which still stands high
above on the peninsula between the harbors of the Theater and Athena. The massive foundations on this high
ground are of unwieldy gneiss from the Latmos mountains and reveal an important temple of ca. 30 x 18 m.
The orientation N-S is unusual. In front of the cella
(naos), there is a pronaos, in front of which again the
otherwise single peristyle was doubled. In the publication the temple is reconstructed on a podium with an
open stairway in front instead of the double colonnade.
It is only certain that the complex rose above a terrace.
The procession that passed each spring
in the month of Taureon from Miletos to Didyma
departed from the Sanctuary of Apollo, the so-called
Delphinion, by the harbor of the Bay of Lions. Here
Apollo was worshiped as god of the harbor, the Delphinios of Cretan origin who had come across the sea. He
was thus called because he was supposed to have shown
the way to Delphi in the form of a dolphin. As protector of seafaring, be became in this form naturally the
god of the colonial settlers. He has been identified, for
instance, in the Milesian settlement of Olbia on the
Of the period before the Persian destruction there remains only an inscription and some round altars which
may have been brought to the present site from elsewhere since the first architectural remains are not even
of the 5th c. These remains indicate nothing more than
a sort of peristyle court in Doric style, a “sacred area”
which only in the course of time was enlarged to the size
of two house units (ca. 50 x 60 m). Originally it was only
half this size and limited to the part on the W side. Only
in the Early Hellenistic period was the portico with two
rows of columns laid out in horseshoe shape along the
N, S, and E sides. The W entrance side had only a single
colonnade. In the court itself were set up so-called
exedrae next to the altars, that is, semicircular benches
together with other votive offerings.
Only in Roman times did the complex receive an
architectural center in the form of a round temple or
monopteros. Originally the area was planned as a place
for sacrifice and for the gathering of the procession with
the priests and singers which led it. In later Imperial
times the porticos were once again reorganized and now
into single colonnades, probably because the court was
then all too obstructed. The marble colonnades were
now crowned with Corinthian-composite capitals. Moreover a vestibule or propylon was added to which are ascribed the Corinthian capitals which were lying nearby.
Always one of the most important
buildings of a town, the bouleuterion occupies a central
space in Miletos as elsewhere. It was exceeded in importance only by the theater, the place of the citizens assembly and perhaps too the place of the meeting of the council before the bouleuterion was built. However in
both cases we know nothing of pre-Hellenistic predecessors.
The bouleuterion has a unified plan containing council
building, peristyle court, and propylon. Totally apart
from its secure date, the building is of importance for
art history as an early example of an axially symmetrical
plan. It is dated by the votive inscription carved on the
epistyle of the council building and repeated on the
vestibule. The blocks belonging to this have been re-erected at the entrance of the court. The inscription
states that two brothers, Timarchos and Herakleides,
erected the building for Antiochos IV, Epiphanes.
The historians Polybios (33.18.6), Diodoros
(3 l.27a) and Appian (Syr
. 45ff) give additional information which permits the building of the bouleuterion of
Miletos to be dated between 175 and 163 B.C. One would
like to know whether the bouleuterion in the Syrian
capital, Antioch on the Orontes, which was [also] founded
in the name of [Antiochos IV] had something to do with
the Milesian building. The ornament of the latter, however, appears to be wholly in the Milesian tradition.
The council building (34.84 x 24.29 m) is set across
the rear of the courtyard. It could also be entered from
the street by two doors at its rear side. One could then
pass up two stairs to the upper rows of seats.
The Gymnasium of Eumenes II
(197-160/59 B.C.). The
complex, considered to be the oldest gymnasium, juts out
between the West Market and the stadium, not far from
the Athena Temple. In Roman times, it was altered
considerably. Close by was found the round base of
Eumenes II which today is preserved in Berlin. A decree
of the people of Miletos honoring Eumenes II was inscribed on the anta of the gate building which led from
the stadium up into the gymnasium. Unfortunately it is
not completely preserved. Today one can barely find the
exact location of the gate. This gate building consisted
of an Ionic vestibule with two columns in antis above
seven steps. It was situated precisely on axis with the
stadium, which it took into consideration in other
respects as well. Steps intended for visitors flanked the
vestibule. Parts of the superstructure were found during
the old excavation, especially fragments of an anta
capital now lost. Since they were published only in drawings, it is difficult to judge their style. They appear, however, to be still in the tradition of the naiskos of Didyma and are in any case finely worked, although perhaps a
The orientation of the stadium fits the
regular plan of the town. One would like to deduce from
this that the room for it was already provided in 479
B.C. at the time the town was newly laid out. It can be
stated with certainty only that the W gate of the
preserved stadium, which connects with the Gymnasium
of Eumenes II, was planned in relation to the stadium
and because of its inscription cannot have been built
after Eumenes II. The arena is 29.56 m wide and probably was 192.27 m long, like the stadium at Olympia. Two starting gate systems are preserved, the second still of the Hellenistic period. In the E both are still partly
visible whlle in the W by the Gymnasium of Eumenes
only the second could be identified. The older system
consisted of 13 stones with holes of which the one in the
middle and the two on the extreme ends were larger and
specially formed. The rest were simpler. As in the older
gate system at Priene, which the Milesian example recalls, the evidence is not sufficient to clarify the details of how the system worked.
So much of the city fountain is still
standing and so much preserved that a reconstruction of
at least the lowest of the three levels of this splendid
monument would be very worthwhile. Of the marble
blocks 333 were excavated and drawn, most of which are
still on the site. A small part of the sculptural decoration was taken to Istanbul and Berlin; most of it, however, remained in Miletos. Since the destruction of
both depots which Th. Wiegand had built against the E
slope of the theater hill, the latter have disappeared:
under-life-sized statues, mostly of gods and demi-gods,
which decorated the niches of the theater-like facade.
The whole is divided into waterworks and decorative
monuments which are set back to back with common
masonry. Of the decorative facade's lowest story are
preserved the middle and two of the four adjoining
arched niches to the S. The plan of these is alternately
semicircular and rectangular. Water flowed from the total
of nine niches into a basin (16.15 x 6.39 m) in front of
which was a smaller drawing-basin.
To the level of the smaller basin project two wings of
two stories each, the lower levels of which continue the
gableless pattern of columns and pilasters of the main
facade. Equally in the second level the so-called tabernacle system of the center building with its triangular and volute gables is repeated. The center building is only distinguished by a third story which employs a similar
but off-set tabernacle system of gables.
The columns were monolithic and unfluted; the pilasters were partly fluted and partly decorated in relief. The
frieze with vine decoration was carried forward over the
columns and pilasters in rectangular plan. The decoration is clearly related to that of the Baths of Capito and
its facade colonnade, but the details appear smaller and
weaker. It is no equal of the Flavian style in the capital,
The epistyle of the lowest story bears an inscription in
Latin, which probably refers to the father of the later
emperor Trajan, who among other duties was proconsul
of Asia under Titus in the year 79-80. The inscription
was, however, inscribed during the reign of his son.
The inscription of the upper epistyle is written in
Greek and speaks of the adornment of the Nymphaeum
under the emperor Gordian III in the years 241-244.
It is doubtful whether this refers to the entirety of the
statues of the facade as has been suggested in the publication.
South of the Nymphaeum are located the remains of a
small monument (11.4 x 6.63 m) on a foundation of
brown poros blocks below and gneiss above. On the E
short side are preserved four marble blocks of the lowest
course of the superstructure. If it was a temple, a naiskos
(perhaps with four columns on the facade), then the
entrance must have been from the W on account of the
character of these marble blocks.
Farther W between the Bouleuterion and the Nymphaeum, in the square paved with limestone slabs, is located the foundation of another small monument. Its major axis lies N-S. Parts of the upper courses have
been preserved as well as most of the blocks of the lower
and a large number of the second level of the marble
steps. These are notable for their numerous setting
The hill against which the theater is set
is over 30 m high and it formed, at least in Classical and
Hellenistic times, the acropolis of Miletos. It juts into
the sea between the Bay of Lions and the Bay of the
Theater “like a spur.” The importance of the building
corresponds with the commanding location.
What is preserved and determines one's impression of
the structure is a Roman plan with a frontal length of
140 m, probably the largest theater of Asia Minor,
calculated for over 15,000 spectators. The auditorium
or cavea originally consisted of three tiers each containing 20 rows of seats. The lowest tier is divided into five
wedges by stairs. The second tier, on the other hand, has
10 wedges; a third tier, which fell victim to the mediaeval
citadel, had 20. In the middle of the first tier a so-called
emperor's box was set up, utilizing four columns reused
from elsewhere. Two of these columns are still in situ;
two were reerected in the orchestra.
To this Roman cavea, with benches which probably
date to the Hellenistic theater, belonged a skene two
stories high and ca. 40 m wide. It was again remodeled
in later Imperial times. A third story was added, while
at the same time the skene underwent considerable enlargement including one in depth. From this rebuilding of
the rear side of the skene come no doubt the figural
friezes which we owe to the School of Aphrodisias.
The Hellenistic stage wall itself can be recognized
clearly in its lower part behind the three rows of pillars
upon which rested the Roman stage. The oldest skene
was only 15 m wide and belonged therefore to a smaller
and probably older theater than is preserved at Priene.
The Baths of Faustina
This largest and best-preserved
building, the latest of the baths and palaestra complexes
to be dealt with here, still dominates, together with the
theater, the general aspect of Miletos.
It deviates from the plan of the rest of the town, which
is uniformly oriented to the cardinal points of the compass at the edge of Theater Bay but in the middle of the town. The sequence and grouping of the rooms, anything but axial or symmetrical, are determined by the form of
The palaestra with its almost square colonnade (62 x
64 m) seems to be at the starting point of the whole plan.
It adjoins the stadium on the W; on the E the baths rest
against it. Furthermore, the latter are connected directly
through another portico with the stadium which links the
whole complex with the Gymnasium of Eumenes.
The remarkably long room (over 80 m) with 13 chambers along each long side was originally basilical and spanned by a vault. It was entered through a narrow door and a vestibule. Above a socle (of which various
remains of marble incrustation can still be seen) can
be recognized on the spur walls of the chambers
rectangular pilasters which are set before the poros
masonry of the wall.
The chambers themselves (2-3 m wide) were vaulted
at a height of 4 m. They were designed for the use of
couches or klinai. These could be reached only over a
continuous socle, almost 1 m high, which made footstools necessary. The benches now visible are only a later
addition. It remains to be asked whether this room, and
not the transverse room adjoining to the S with its niches,
served as apodyterion from the beginning, as is commonly believed. Its basin (piscina) was added later.
Reflecting more the greatness and importance of the Imperium Romanum than the religious
life of Miletos, the temple belongs to late antiquity both
in plan and method of construction. The naos (ca. 22.5
x 12.5 m) has three aisles. The columns are Ionic but
unfluted and no capitals have been preserved. Before the
inner chamber is a much narrower pronaos which is
actually no more than a tetrastyle propylon and indeed
appears to have been added only later. It bears a dedicatory inscription which expressly speaks of a “pronaos”
and names Julius Aurelius Menekles as the dedicator.
The name and form of the letters indicate the 3d c. A.D.,
perhaps already the time of the emperor Aurelian (270-275), one of the strongest patrons of the cult of the
The architecture of the pronaos is richly decorated.
The columns have composite capitals, the epistyle vines
in characteristic openwork and an arched frieze.
The coffers of the “vestibule” carry busts of deities in
relief. They have been laid out now in the interior of
the main building. A fragment with the Apollo of
Didyma by Kanachos is stored in the museum of Balat.
T. Wiegand, Milet, Ergebnisse der
Ausgrabungen und Untersuchungen seit dem Jahre 1899
(1906ff) 18 vols.; A. G. Dunham, The History of Miletus
down to the Anabasis of Alexander
(1915); G. Kleiner,
(1966); id., Die Ruinen von Milet
“Stand der Erforschung von Alt-Milet,” IstMitt
(1969-70) 113-23; id., Das Römische Milet, Bilder aus
der griechischen Stadt in römischer Zeit
(1970); id. &
W. Müller-Wiener, “Die Grabung in Milet im Herbst
22 (1972) 45-92; C. Weickert et al., “Die
Ausgrabung beim Athena-Tempel in Milet 1957,”
9-10 (1959-60) 1-96; P. Hommel, “Archaischer
Jünglingskopf aus Milet,” IstMitt
17 (1967) 115-27; A.
Mallwitz & W. Schiering, “Der alte Athena-Tempel von
18 (1968) 87-160.