©The Archaeological Settlements of Turkey - TAY Project


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Flat Settlement
10 m
Investigation Method:
Archaic Classical Protogeometric Geometric


Location: It is close to the village of Balat; in the area where the Menderes River joins the Aegean Sea; to the west of the province of Aydin. The importance of the settlement during Antiquity is not debatable. It is very easy to access. Miletos is one of the few sites in Turkey which has a museum to display only the finds of its own.
Geography and Environment: The EBA settlement; like the antique city; is on a cape on the shore of the gulf. It is not clear how the inhabitants of this site supplied their drinking water.
Research and Excavation: First excavations in Milet were initiated by O. Rayet in 1873. In 1899, T. Wiegand launched the systematic excavations in Milet. Wiegand who had a particular interest on the Archaic Period of Milet, started to excavate in the Temple of Athena. In between the years 1904 and 1909, excavations at Kalabaktepe Mevkii, the most significant area of Archaic Miletos were completed. G. Kleiner who excavated Milet in the years between 1950 and 1970 documented that beside the area around the Temple of Athena, the Archaic layers were destructed by later Hellenistic and Roman building activity [Niewöhner 2016: 9]. A more extensive excavation Project was launched in the 1980's at Kalabaktepe and Zeytintepe. Between 1985-94, excavations at Kalabaktepe were conducted under the joined directory of W. Müller-Wiener, V. von Graeve and R. Senff. The Sanctuary of Aphrodite Oikos was identified and excavated in the1990-91 seasons. Starting from 1994, the team led by W.D. Niemeier revealed a great number of evidence indicating the existence of Minoan culture within the borders of Milet, thus identified the site as an important Minoan settlement. Until 2012, excavations were conducted under the directory of V. Von Graeve. From 2013 to 2016 P. Niewöhner was in charge of the excavation team. Since 2017, excavations at Milet have been carried out by a team led by C. Berns.
Small Finds: Architecture: The excavations conducted adjacent to the Temple of Athena by C. Weickert in 1938 and in 1955-57 yielded remains of city walls and domestic structures belonging to the Mycenaean Period. The structure presumed to have been a Myceanean megaron during the excavations in 1973 by P. Hommel actually turned out to date to the Archaic Period during the 1994 campaign. The settlement of the Geometric Period, which was a significant period for Miletus, expanded onto two separate areas; Kalabaktepe and Temple of Athena. It was found out that the acropolis of Kalabaktepe was first occupied during the Geometric Period, and the Late Geometric occupation started during the 8th century BC and had two phases. Presence of a sanctuary that can, again, be dated to the 8th century BC is reported on the eastern terrace of Kalabaktepe. The defence wall surrounding Kalabaktepe is dated to the second half of the 7th century BC. Domestic structures from the Archaic Period with courtyards dating to the 6th century BC were exposed beneath the above mentioned wall on the southern slope of Kalabaktepe. Presence of several building levels were identified in these intensely inhabited structures, and the earliest ones were dated from 700 to 650 BC. A potter's oven dating to the 7th century BC was uncovered under these domestic structures. The second defence wall of Kalabaktepe was built during the mid-6th century BC inside the defence wall erected during the second half of the 7th century BC. It was recognized that the Archaic Temple of Athena near the Theatre Harbor had two building phases; "earlier" (between the 8th and 6th century BC) and "later" (the late 6th century BC). A sudden increase is observed in the construction activities at Miletus during the last quarter of the 6th century BC, which included the Temples of Apollo and Artemis at Didyma, the temenos on the Sacred Way, the Temple of Artemis Kithone on the eastern terrace of Kalabaktepe, the Sanctuary of Aphrodite Oikous at Zeytintepe, the Temple of Athena Assesia at Mengerevtepe, and a monumental altar to Poseidon at promontory of Tekagaç. Although there is no evidence of Archaic domestic structures on the northern section of the peninsula on which Miletus is located, only Temples of Demeter and Kore on Humma Hill, Dionysus to the east of Kaletepe, and probably Apollo Delphinios was certainly dated to the Archaic Period. A monumental tomb dating to the 6th century BC and known as Aslanli Mezar (Lion Grave) was uncovered on the slopes of Kazartepe. And pipe-laying activities in the village of Yeni Balat contributed to recovery of the Archaic Period necropolis, which couldn't be identified previously. During the excavations performed in the east of Kalabaktepe Artemis Khitone Sanctuary and on the slope to its north in 2007 a structure was unearthed in the north section with a hearth in its center dating to Late 8th century BC. Another structure which belongs to the structure above was unearthed immediately north of this at 3 m depth again dating to 8th century BC. The building complex was abandoned immediately after mid 7th century BC and filled with soil. The entrance was apparently in the lower building based on the threshold yielded in the east wall. Four cavities for holding the wooden beams that supported the ceiling were identified on the building floor. The preserved wall in southwest corner is 2.55 m. It is important that a wall at this height was preserved in a Late Geometric Period building. The fact that there are no other buildings near this building complex, and it was built so that it is visible from Miletus suggests that it was an important building inside the sacred area [Graeve 2010:140]. Excavations at this complex in 2008 yielded a small adjacent to the east wall of the complex dated to same period and a square in front of it, a narrow road that extends towards the east terrace of Late Archaic Period Temple [Graeve 2010:141]. Altar: Very rich votive goods dating prior to 494 BC were uncovered at Zeytintepe in bothroi carved into the bedrock on the western side of the temenos, extending down to the eastern terrace. Pottery: The excavations at Miletus yielded Sub-Mycenaean and Protogeometric pottery. The Middle Geometric pottery was found in the burnt layer of a Geometric house. The stratigraphic excavations of Kalabaktepe revealed abundant number of decorated sherds dating to the 7th and 6th centuries BC, mainly in local wild goat and fikellura styles. Significant number of Attic Black Figure pottery was uncovered at Miletus while only a few examples of red figure style was found in archaeological contexts prior to the destruction of 494. The excavations carried out in the area of Temple of Athena yielded an Archaic well full of Archaic pottery and amphorae while an Archaic storeroom filled with wine amphorae was found during the excavations in the Theatre Harbor and the Temple of Athena area, suggesting commercial significance of this part of the city. Thirty intact amphorae dating from the time of Persian sack were discovered in a trapezoidal warehouse near the Theatre Harbor. In 2007 votive objects dated to 7th century BC were yielded at Zeytintepe Aphrodite Sanctuary. Besides these Corinthian aryballoi were found among the group of finds that dated to the same period and of which the majority consisted of Miletus product miniature vases [Graeve 2010:135-136]. Besides Miletus product fikellula sherds Attica, Khios and Laconia sherds were also yielded [Graeve 2010:137]. Clay: 7th century BC Daedalic female figurines compose the majority among the terra cotta figurines yielded at Zeytintepe Aphrodite Sanctuary. Female figurines in standing position and holding their bellies with both hands, protomes, pinax with winged goddess relief are among the features that enrich Milet figurines [Graeve 2010.137]. Statue/Relief: The Sacred Way between Miletus and Didyma was adorned with a row of statues dating to the 7th and 6th centuries BC. Also found are two lion statues at the entrance to the monumental tomb dating to the 6th century BC and known as the Lion Grave. Among the artifacts important for the Miletus and Ionian art yielded during excavations at Zeytintepe Aphrodite Sanctuary in 2007 the marble Kore head is particularly important. Limestone sitting god figure with ram head and limestone male figure carrying a ram are among specimens believed to be Cykprus production [Graeve 2010:137]. Coin: It is certain that the ancient city of Miletus was one of the first Greek cities to mint coins. The electrum coinage of the city are dated to the mid-6th century BC. Mineral: It is believed that a miniature lying lion figure found among many bronze artifacts at Zeytintepe Aphrodite Sanctuary in 2007 excavations belonged to the decoration of a bronze tripod. The stylized miniature bird figurine among the bronze finds is believed to be of Thesalia origine. Numerous bronze votive shields and fibulae and bronze arrowheads, rotelle, nails and handles are among artifacts [Graeve 2010:137]. Other: Among the small finds yielded at Zeytintepe Aphrodite Sanctuary during 2007 excavations well preserved tile scarabaei, beads, objects made of mountain gems, decorated tridacna, miniature alabastron, and inlaid bone objects are important [Graeve 2010:137].
Interpretation and Dating: Being one of the twelve Ionian city, Miletus is the earliest and the most important site of Ionia. The ancient poet Homer refers to Miletus as follows; "...Nastes led the Carians, men of strange speech. These held Miletus and the wooded mountain of Phthiron...". Miletus is one of the cities he frequently referred to. It is also important that the information provided by Herodotus was verified by the excavations at Miletus. According to Pliny, Miletus had ninety colonies. The city is also referred frequently in the Geographica of Strabo, who mentioned that Miletus was founded by Neleus from Pylos, and that famous people such as Thales, Anaximandros, Anaximenes, Hecataeus and Aiskhines, who lived in his own time were all Milesian. There are five foundation myths which claim that Miletus was founded by the Ionians, particularly the Athenians. Three of these foundation myths are referred by Herodotus, one by Ephorus quoted from Strabo, and another one by Pausanias. The most famous one is from Herodotus, who described how Ionian colonists who considered themselves to be of purest blood, founded Miletus after killing the Carian men in the area of Miletus, and taking their widows, sisters and daughters as their wifes, and then women of Miletus swore an oath that passed through the generations, forbidding them to dine with their husbands or call them by name. In spite of presence of a mixed Carian-Greek population at Miletus, no physical evidence of a Carian cultural assemblage has been identified at the site. On the other side, Minoan and Mycenaean influence was so strong in nowhere in Anatolia as it was in Miletus. The city was a member of the Delian League. As a result of the extent of destruction of the Persian sack in 494, no building from the period prior to this date survived. Furthermore, although presence of temples and shrines dedicated to other Olympian gods such as Zeus and Heracles is known through epigraphic evidence, they have not been located by archaeologists so far.

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