Sited on a peninsula, at the mouth of the Meander River, in the south of the province of Ionia in Western Anatolia, the ancient city of Miletus was the oldest and the most powerful of the twelve Ionian cities in Asia Minor. It was the founder of over ninety colonies, mainly on the shores of the Marmara and the Black Sea, and it traded with ports as far away as Egypt.


Miletus is renowned as the first city to which the principles of modern town planning were applied, incorporating a complex sewer system beneath the paved roads. The grid plan introduced by Hippodamos, in 479 BCE, was later to form the basis of town-planning in all Roman cities. At its peak Miletus boasted a stadium, theatre, agora, baths, gymnasium and many temples, and had four separate harbours in Lions Bay. Unfortunately, as a result of the silting up of the Meander, the city eventually became distant from the sea and, like many more ancient ports, lost its importance in world trade, and by the Byzantine period was reduced to a village on the hilltop surrounding the citadel.


A great centre of learning, Miletus had many schools and produced many famous scholars. Thales, one of its most famous, contributed greatly to the development of geometry and science, and the Miletus alphabet became accepted as the standard script used in writing by ancient Greeks.




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