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Miletus (mĪlēˈtəs) [key], ancient seaport of W Asia Minor, in Caria, on the mainland not far from Sámos. It was occupied by Greeks in the settlement of the E Aegean (c.1000 B.C.) and became one of the principal cities of Ionia. From the 8th cent. B.C. it led in colonization, especially on the Black Sea. The Milesians were strong enough to resist the Lydian kings and were not molested by the Persians. In 499 B.C., however, they stirred up the revolt of Ionian Greeks against Persia; the Persians sacked the city (494 B.C.). Although less flourishing, Miletus remained an important seaport until the harbor silted up early in the Christian era. Miletus produced some of the earliest Greek philosophers, including Thales and Anaximander. The site was excavated by German archaeologists.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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