The Market Gate, whose reconstruction is visible at the Pergamonmuseum in Berlin today, is one of Miletus’ best-known buildings. Only the socle of its gate building remains in its original location at the southern end of the avenue at the heart of central Miletus.
The structural elements of the Market Gate, especially segments of the trusses and cornice of its upper story and parts of its gable, are well preserved, allowing researchers to reconstruct the complex. After their excavation, these segments were moved to Berlin within the scope of the official partage process and with permission from the Ottoman government. Only the marble crepidoma and the limestone socle remained at the original site.
The reconstructed building shows a 2-story gate, around 16 meters tall, with 2 small lateral entrances and one large, central passageway that forms the monumental entrance in the north of the southern market. In the upper story, niches indicate where the passages used to be. Several columns standing on a pedestal divided the front.
The finds in the foundation area show that the building had a Hellenistic predecessor. It was aligned to face an altar in the middle of the agora’s large, open square. As well as a passage and an accessway to the southern market, the Market Gate was also a sales area for merchants. This is known because of inscriptions on the pedestal and the rear wall of the gate, which name a certain Attalos from Ephesus and a barber called Achilleus.
The heavily worn crepidoma reveals the significance of this gate structure and the intensive use of the connected open squares. An inscription found in the adjacent southern market suggests that the gate was built at the behest of a wealthy private man.
In the past, the Market Gate and its architectural design attracted great attention from researchers. Comparisons between the structure’s style and design with those of other monuments from Minor Asia allowed it to be dated to the end of the first century to the beginning of the second century CE. As early as the second half of the second century CE, supporting columns had to be built to secure the building. This may have been due to earthquakes or unstable grounds.
In the Byzantine period (around fifth–fifteenth century CE), the Market Gate began to be used for a defensive purpose, having been integrated into the newly built fortification wall. Ultimately, earthquakes brought the gate down, and the site was used to build homes.
Studies of the materials used have shown that the marble came from quarries at Lake Bafa near Heraclea at Latmus. Some traces of ancient pigments indicate that the structure was intensely colored. The Market Gate was also equipped with sculptures, including 2 colossal statues depicting the armored emperor subduing a female barbarian and a naked hero with a cornucopia. They probably flanked the middle passageway. These sculptures, too, are exhibited at the Pergamonmuseum in Berlin today, representing the military might of the emperor and the wealth of his empire.
Text: Marieke Bohn
H. Knackfuss, Der Südmarkt und die benachbarten Bauanlagen. Mit epigraphischem Beitrag von A. Rehm. Milet 1,7 (Berlin 1924).
V. M. Strocka, Das Markttor von Milet, BWPr 128 (Berlin 1981) 3–61.
M. Pfanner – J. Pfanner – A. Fendt – S. Langer – L. Reichenbach – M. Maischberger, Forschungen im Sumpf. Neue Untersuchungen zum Markttor und zur Agora in Milet, AW 36, 2005, 81–85.
M. Maischberger, in: P. Niewöhner, Milet / Balat. Städtebau und Monumente von archaischer bis in türkische Zeit. Ein Führer (Istanbul 2016) 81-85.