Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Miletus and Mud

#Miletos #Miletus #Balat #turkey #Greekcolony #Ionia

I was looking for more town plans showing agoras when I came across this map that shows the the intersection of #history and #geography.

Yes now that gray green area in the middle was once open water!

Now Miletus has been occupied since at least the Bronze Age and hence probably even earlier. Who was there before the Minoans and Mycenaeans I don't know but it was a city and port both multicultural and yet a classic Ionian Greek Polis too! However like Ephesus silting turned it from a major port to a declining backwater now in ruins near the modern Turkish village of Balat.

Odd that the Romans who could drain lakes and build canals and breakwaters for their ports never turned their engineering skills to divert the silt behind dykes.

Of the ancient note that Smyrna now Izmir is still a port but it lies in a narrower river valley in which the river flows straight with less silt buildup.

Back to Miletus home of philosophers and the Milesians.

They had a double agora and no not because the Romans expanded the agora area building a forum next to the Greek agora as happened in many cities.

While the bay marked D was the primary port the other bays and coves were probably used too by fishermen. However with the silt buildup moving the shore line closer and closer what was once a sheltered bay with great anchorage and clear views of any enemy fleets became an indefensible site. 

Poor Miletus conquered by geography!

The nearby fertile riverlands that attracted Greek colonists  ended up becoming a bane instead of a blessing!