(modern Bodrum, Turkey
) was an ancient Ionian Greek city
of Caria, located on the Gulf of Cerameicus in Anatolia
. According to tradition it was founded by Dorian Greeks of the Peloponnese
. The most famous of her sons, the historian Herodotus
, wrote that in early times the city participated in the Dorian festival of Apollo
at Triopion, but the city’s literature
and culture appear completely Ionic (Herodotus’ own Histories were written in Ionic Greek).
The city, with its large sheltered harbor and key position on the sea routes, became the capital of the small kingdom, the most famous ruler of which was King Mausollos. His wife Artemisia
built the great Tomb
of Mausollos after his death, the so-called Mausoleum of Halicarnassos, one of the Seven Wonders
of the Ancient World. Artemisia, as queen of a kingdom of the Persian Empire
, served under Xerxes
in the invasion of Greece
in 480 BCE and fought at the Battle
. Under the rule of Artemisia and Mausollos, the city underwent a great renewal in architecture and infrastructure as the monarchs wished their city to be the jewel of Anatolia. A great wall
circuit, public buildings and a secret dockyard and canal were built as well as many well-ordered roads and temples
to the gods.
The city was besieged by Alexander
the Great in 334 BCE (the famous Siege of Halicarnassos) where he almost suffered defeat (it would have been his only one) but, at the last minute, his infantry broke the walls and burned the Persian ships. The Persian commander Memnon of Rhodes
, realizing the city was lost, set fire to it and fled. The fire consumed most of the city. Alexander set his ally, Ada of Caria, to rule Halcarnassus and she, in turn, formally adopted him as her son so that his blood-line would always rule the city. After Alexander’s death, however, rule of the city passed to Antigonus I
(311 BCE), Lysimachus (after 301 BCE) and the Ptolemies (281–197 BCE) and was briefly an independent kingdom until 129 BCE when it came under Roman
A series of earthquakes destroyed much of the city as well as the great Mausoleum while repeated pirate attacks from the Mediterranean
wreaked further havoc on the area. By the time of the early Christian era, when Halicarnassus was an important Bishopric, there was little left of the shining city of Mausollos. In 1404 CE the Christian Knights of St. John used the ruins of the Mausoleum to build their castle in Bodrum (which still exists today and where one may still see the stones which once were part of a Wonder of the ancient world). The ruins of the city were extensively excavated in 1856–57 CE and again in 1865 CE and much of its great wall, the gymnasium, a late colonnade, a temple platform, rock-cut tombs and the site of the Mausoleum (littered with those stones not used by the knights) may still be seen today.