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Ionia (Ἰωνία)
Ancient region of Anatolia
Mount Mycale
Roman province
Europe – Asia
Asia Minor
, Ionian area in green.

Ionia (

Archaic Period (600–480 BC), settled mainly the shores and islands of the Aegean Sea. Ionian states were identified by tradition and by their use of Eastern Greek

Ionia proper comprised a narrow coastal strip from

Maeander, and included the islands of Chios and Samos. It was bounded by Aeolia to the north, Lydia to the east and Caria to the south. The cities within the region figured large in the strife between the Persian Empire
and the Greeks.

According to

king of Athens. In accordance with this view the "Ionic migration", as it was called by later chronologers, was dated by them one hundred and forty years after the Trojan War, or sixty years after the return of the Heracleidae into the Peloponnese.[1][2]



Ionia was of small extent, not exceeding 150 kilometres (90 mi) in length from north to south, with a breadth varying from 60 to 90 kilometres (40 to 60 mi), but to this must be added the peninsula of

Asia Minor has been famous in all ages, Ionia enjoyed the reputation in ancient times of being the most fertile of all the rich provinces of Asia Minor.[2]


The ruins of the ancient city of Pergamon

The geography of Ionia placed it in a strategic position that was both advantageous and disadvantageous. Ionia was always a maritime power founded by a people who made their living by trade in peaceful times and marauding in unsettled times. The coast was rocky and the arable land slight. The native Luwians for the most part kept their fields further inland and used the rift valleys for wooded pasture. The coastal cities were placed in defensible positions on islands or headlands situated so as to control inland routes up the rift valleys. The people of those valleys were of different ethnicity. The populations of the cities came from many civilizations in the eastern



Ancient demographics are available only from literary sources.

Clazomenae and Phocaea, together with Samos and Chios.[4] Smyrna, originally an Aeolic colony, was afterwards occupied by Ionians from Colophon, and became an Ionian city — an event which had taken place before the time of Herodotus.[2][5]

These cities do not match those of


There is no record of any people named Ionians in

Hittite texts record the Achaeans of Ahhiyawa, of location not completely certain, but in touch with the Hittites of that time. Miletus and some other cities founded earlier by non-Greeks received populations of Mycenaean Greeks
probably under the name of Achaeans. The tradition of Ionian colonizers from Achaea suggests that they may have been known by both names even then. In the absence of archaeological evidence of discontinuity at Miletus, the Achaean population, whatever their name, appears to have descended to archaic Ionia, which does not exclude the possibility of another colonizing and founding event from Athens.

In the Indian (e.g.: Sanskrit) historic literary texts, the Ionians are referred to as "yavana" or "yona", and are described as wearing leather and wielding whips. In modern Turkish, the people of that region and the Greeks were called "yunan" (plural "yunanlılar") and the country that is now Greece is known as "Yunanistan".

Herodotus expresses some impatience at the ethnic views of his countrymen concerning Ionia: "for it would be foolishness to say that these are more truly Ionian or better born ...."

Dryopians, Phocians, Molossians, Arcadian Pelasgians, Dorians of Epidaurus, and others. The presence of Doric Ionians is somewhat contradictory, but Herodotus himself, a major author of the Ionic dialect, was from a Doric city, Halicarnassus. Even " the best born of the Ionians", the Athenians, married girls from Caria. "Yet since they set more store by the name than the rest of the Ionians, let it be granted that those of pure birth are Ionians."[7]


From the 18th century BC the region was a part of the

Hittite Empire with possible name Arzawa, which was destroyed by invaders during the 12th century BC together with the collapse of the Empire. Ionia was settled by the Greeks probably during the 11th century BC. The most important city was Miletus
(the Millawanda/Milawata of Hittites). Several centuries later Ionia was the place where
Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes and Heraclitus. They were natural-philosophers of the Ionian School of philosophy
and tried to explain phenomena according to non-supernatural laws. They also searched for a simple material form behind the appearances of things (origin) and this conception had a great influence on the early archaic art in Greece.


It is hypothesised that during the late 13th century BC the peoples of the

Luwian Anatolia, often by invitation. In the background was the stabilizing influence of the Hittites, who monitored maritime movement and suppressed piracy. When that power was gone, the Luwian people remained in the vacuum as a number of coastal splinter states that were scarcely able now to defend themselves. Ionian Greeks took advantage of opportunities for coastal raiding: an inscription of Sargon II (ca 709–07, recording a naval expedition of 715) boasts "in the midst of the sea" he had "caught the Ionians like fish and brought peace to the land of Que Cilicia and the city of Tyre".[8] For a full generation earlier, Assyrian inscriptions had recorded troubles with the Ionians, who escaped on their boats.[8]

and had sought refuge in Athens. The Athenian kings decided to relieve the crowding by resettling the coast of Lydia with Ionians from the Peloponnesus under native Athenian leadership.

The site of Miletus, once coastal, now inland. The plain was a bay in Classical Greece

They were not the only Greeks to have such a perception and reach such a decision. The Aeolians of Boeotia contemporaneously settled the coast to the north of the Ionians and the newly arrived Dorians of Crete and the islands and coast of Caria. The Greeks descended on the Luwians of the Anatolian coast in the 10th century BC. The descent was not peaceful and the Luwians were not willing.

Clazomenae and Phocaea were settled from Colophon. Somewhat later they took Smyrna
from the Aeolians.

Brief autonomy

The Ionian cities formed a religious and cultural (as opposed to a political or military) confederacy, the

Mt. Mycale in a shrine called the Panionium.[2] In addition to the Pan-Ionic festival at Mycale, which was celebrated mainly by the Asian Ionians, both European and Asian coast Ionians convened on Delos Island each summer to worship at the temple of the Delian Apollo

But like the

Thales of Miletus to combine in a political union was rejected.[2]

The colonies naturally became prosperous.

Euxine Sea and the Propontis from Abydus and Cyzicus to Trapezus and Panticapaeum. Phocaea was one of the first Greek cities whose mariners explored the shores of the western Mediterranean. Ephesus, though it did not send out any colonies of importance, from an early period became a flourishing city and attained to a position corresponding in some measure to that of Smyrna at the present day.[2]

Under the last Anatolian empire

The temple of Artemis in Sardis

About 700 BC Gyges, first Mermnad king of Lydia, invaded the territories of Smyrna and Miletus, and is said to have taken Colophon as his son Ardys did Priene. The first event in the history of Ionia for which there is a trustworthy account is the inroad of the Cimmerii, who ravaged a great part of Asia Minor, including Lydia, and sacked Magnesia on the Maeander, but were foiled in their attack upon Ephesus. This event may be referred to the middle of the 7th century BC. It was not until the reign of Croesus (560–545 BC) that the cities of Ionia fell completely under Lydian rule.[2]

Satrapy of the Achaemenids

15th-century map showing Ionia.

The defeat of Croesus by

Histiaeus of Miletus, that in about 500 BC the principal cities ignited the Ionian Revolt against Persia. They were at first assisted by the Athenians and Eretria, with whose aid they penetrated into the interior and burnt Sardis, an event which ultimately led to the Persian invasion of Greece. But the fleet of the Ionians was defeated off the island of Lade, and the destruction of Miletus after a protracted siege was followed by the reconquest of all the Asiatic Greeks, insular as well as continental.[2]

Autonomy under the Athenian empire

The victories of the Greeks during the great Persian war and the liberation of

Macedon, and Ionia from the Persian Empire had the effect of enfranchising their kinsmen on the other side of the Aegean; and the Battle of Mycale (479 BC), in which the defeat of the Persians was in great measure owing to the Ionians, secured their emancipation. They henceforth became the dependent allies of Athens (see Delian League), though still retaining their autonomy, which they preserved until the Peace of Antalcidas in 387 BC once more placed them as well as the other Greek cities in Asia under the nominal dominion of Persia.[2]

Satrapy again (387–335 BC)

Ionian cities appear to have retained a considerable amount of freedom until the conquest of Asia Minor by Alexander the Great.[2]

Hellenistic period

After the

, never regaining its splendor.

Recent history

Ionia became part of the Roman province of Asia in 133 BC.[11] Greeks continued to live in Ionia through the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empires but were forced to vacate the region in 1922 with the population exchange between Turkey and Greece.


The Library of Celsus in Ephesus was built by the Romans in 114–117.[12] The Temple of Artemis in Ephesus, built by king Croesus of Lydia in the 6th century BC, was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.[13]

Ionia has a long roll of distinguished men of letters and science (notably the

Bupalus and Athenis of Chios. Notable works of the school still extant are the famous archaic female statues found on the Athenian Acropolis in 1885–1887, the seated statues of Branchidae, the Nike of Archermus found at Delos, and the objects in ivory and electrum found by D. G. Hogarth in the lower strata of the Artemision at Ephesus.[2]


as well as in other places.

Literary references

Ionia appears as the major setting in these novels:

See also


  1. ^ Smith, William (1857). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography: Volume II Iabadius-Zymethus. London: Walton and Maberly. "Ionia", pages 60–61.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainBunbury, Edward Herbert; Hogarth, David George (1911). "Ionia". In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 14 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 727–728.
  3. ^ Herodotus, 1.145.
  4. ^ Herodotus, 1.142.
  5. ^ Herodotus, 1.143, 1.149–150.
  6. ^ Herodotus, 1.146.
  7. ^ Herodotus, 1.147.
  8. ^ a b Sargon's inscription in A. Fuchs, Die Inschriften Sargons II aus Khorsabad (1994:40) noted in Robin Lane Fox, Travelling Heroes in the Epic Age of Homer, 2008:29f.
  9. ^ Guide to Greece Book 7 Sections 5–7.
  10. . Retrieved 31 December 2014.
  11. .
  12. ^ Mark Cartwright. "Celsus Library". World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2 February 2017.
  13. ^ "The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus: The Un-Greek Temple and Wonder". World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  14. . The name "Yunan" comes from Ionia; cf. Old Persian "Yauna" (...)


Coordinates: 38°12′N 27°30′E / 38.2°N 27.5°E / 38.2; 27.5