The IInd century AD is regarded by many historians as the Golden Century of the Roman Empire.
It was marked by an extended period of peace which favoured economy and trade.
In particular Asia, the Roman province which included today's western Turkey, experienced a great development. Its ports, which were placed along key routes to Syria and Egypt, greatly benefited from the increase of trade.
Most of the towns covered in this section were founded well before the Roman conquest, but in the IInd century they enlarged or embellished their main buildings and added to them aqueducts and baths.
They almost competed in having the largest and most decorated theatres, which were regarded as a symbol of the town's prosperity.
Clickable map of the archaeological sites (blue dots) covered in this section. The green dots indicate locations covered in other sections of this web site.
The map shows the coast line as it was in the IInd century; major changes have occurred since then; rivers and in particular the Maeander River have filled the shallow waters of some bays and today many ancient ports are miles away from the sea.
View of the countryside near Miletus; in the distance Mt. Latmus
The whole gulf of Miletus is today a coastal plain; in the past the sea reached Mt. Latmus.
Although the region was not part of Classical Greece, Mt. Latmus is quoted in the Greek myth:
Endymion was lying asleep in a cave on Mt. Latmus when Selene (the Moon) first saw him. It was a still night and the goddess lay down by his side and kissed his closed eyes. But the shepherd did not awake as he had obtained eternal youth from Zeus, but at the price of a never-ending sleep. So every night Selene had to content herself with gently kissing him.
These folks promote the archaeological sites where they live:
Old Faithful: let me spell it out: "Myra has the best rock-cut tombs of Lycia"
In the IIIrd century epidemic disease, the fall in security due to the first Gothic raids and the military anarchy of the empire contributed to the decline of the province; in the following centuries almost all the towns were abandoned.
The image used as background for this page shows the theatre of Miletus.