Homer records that at the time of the Trojan War, it was a Carian city (Iliad, book II). Later, it would become one of the twelve Ionian cities of Asia Minor. Its gridlike layout, planned by Hippodamos, later became the basic layout for Roman cities. The city also once possessed a harbour, before it was clogged by alluvium brought by the Meander.
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 several colonies. It came under Persian rule until 479 BC, when the Greeks liberated it . During this time several other cities were formed by Milesian Greek settlers, spanning across Asia Minor and even into Crimea.
The New Testament mentions Miletus as the site where the apostle Paul met with the elders of the church of Ephesus before his capture in Jerusalem and travel to Rome for trial, as well as the city where Trophimus, one of Paul's travelling companions, recovered while sick.