It was once one of the twelve Ionian cities of Asia Minor. Its gridlike layout, planned by Hippodamos, became the basic layout for Roman cities. The city also once possessed a harbor, before it was clogged by alluvium brought by the Meander.
The history of Miletus reaches back to the bronze age. Scholars have generally agreed that the Anatolian city Milawata mentioned in Hittite records should be identified with Miletus. In the 1500s BC, settlers from Crete moved there. In the 6th century BC, Miletus had become a maritime empire, having founded on several colonies. It was under Persian rule until 479 BC, when the Greek became victorious over the Persians. During this time several other cities were formed by settlers from Miletus, spanning across what is now Turkey and even as far as Crimea. In ancient Greece, Miletus became famous for its science and philosophers, with Thales being the most important one. In 334 BC, the city was conquered by Alexander the Great.