Miletus, an ancient city of Asia Minor, situated in the northern part of Caria, but politically belonging to the Ionian confederacy. It stood at the northern extremity of a promontory formed by the Grium range, opposite Priene and the headland of Mycale, and commanding the entrance of the Latmic bay, into which the Mseander flowed. Miletus had four harbors, protected by a group of islands, the principal of which was Lade. It is difficult to determine the precise position of the now ruined city, owing to the continued changes produced in the bay and its surroundings by the action of the Meander, which, bringing down immense masses of soil, has filled up the northern portion of the water basin, and changed Lade and the other islands into parts of the continent. The territory of Miletus extended round the bay as far as the promontory of Mycale on the north and Cape Posidium on the south. The earliest inhabitants were Carians, Leleges, and Cretans, and it derived its historical name from Miletus, a leader of the latter, being also called Pitvosa and Anaetoria. It was subsequently settled by lonians from Greece under the lead of Neleus, the younger son of the last Athenian king, Codrus. It was celebrated as an industrial and commercial city, and in the early portion of Grecian history it was the foremost maritime power, extending its commerce and colonies all over the shores of the Mediterranean, the Propontis, and the Euxine. Among its colonies were Naucratis in the delta of Egypt, Sinope in Paphlagonia, Panticapseuin in the Taurian peninsula (Crimea), and Odessus, Olbia. Tomi, and Istropolis, on the W. shores of the Euxine. At the same period it also occupied a dignified place among the most enlightened cities of Ionia, being the birthplace of the philosophers Thales and Anaximander, and of the historians Cadmus and Hecatasus. It successfully defended its independence against Sadyattes and Alyattes of Lydia, but succumbed to the last monarch of that kingdom, Croesus; and after his fall it was suhdued by the army of the Persian conqueror under Ilarpagus. Under Aristagoras, the brother-in-law of its governor Histiaeus, it revolted with the other Ionian cities against Darius Hystaspis, receiving aid from the Athenians, but was finally subdued and destroyed by the Persians (494 B. C), the great revolt leading to the first invasion of Greece. Recovering under the later Persian kings, it vainly defended the cause of the last of them against Alexander (334), and suffered a new ruin.
Having belonged for about a century to the Seleucidre, it was annexed to the territories of Rome after the defeat of Antiochus the Great, and shared the fate of the other cities of the province of Asia, dwindling away under the Byzantine rule, until it was totally destroyed by the Turks. For some years excavations have been conducted at the cost of the Rothschilds, who in 1873 presented to the administration of the fine arts in Paris several columns and sculptures from the temple of Apollo Didymus. Remains of an aqueduct and of several temples have been found.