The South Market is Miletus’ largest public square. As well as the representative function indicated by its monumental architecture, the market was also used for trading purposes and as a social meeting space. Its most prominent element is the Market Gate of Miletus, a monumental Roman gate at the northern entrance of the market. Today, this building is exhibited at the Pergamonmuseum in Berlin. The southern market has been studied since 1899, and first digs took place in 1901. It is yet to be excavated fully.
Photo: Miletus dig / F. Neupert 2021
Orthomosaic of the northwestern corner of the southern market after cleaning works, 2021.
Photo: S. Munnecke 2021
The western hall of the southern market and the storage hall seen from the southwest (2021).
A later mosque with a cemetery overlaps the southwestern corner of the market. A hall was built at the eastern edge of the area during the Hellenistic period (around 336–30 BCE). Knackfuss describes it as a type of store exhibiting a highly efficient use of space. Its shops and storage rooms were leased out, and the proceeds were likely used to finance building measures at the Temple of Apollo at Didyma. Architectural characteristics and fragments of an inscription indicate that the Hellenistic king Antiochus I was the donor of the hall, having funded the construction of a hall the length of a stadium in 299 BCE. Next, an L-shaped, 2-nave north-western hall was built on the opposite side, and another hall was erected in the south to complete the structures surrounding the square. The southern hall had 19 chambers to the rear, also used for commercial and storage purposes. Based on its technical details, Knackfuss dates it to the second half of the second century BCE. The first gate, the northern entrance to the market, was erected towards the end of the Hellenistic period to complete the complex. It was removed during the reign of Emperor Domitian (81–91 CE) or Trajan (98–117 CE) and replaced with the later representative gate (Market Gate of Miletus). The southern entrance to the market was plain. During the Roman Empire, the Market Gate was rebuilt and further, comprehensive renovations took place. The entire eastern wing of the building, which had previously been a separate building, was connected with the other halls so that the entire square was fully framed by 2-nave colonnades.
Text: Silas Munnecke
H. Knackfuss, Der südliche Markt und die benachbarten Bauanlagen. Mit epigraphischem Beitrag von A. Rehm. Milet 1,7 (Berlin 1924).
H. v. Hesberg, Platzanlagen und Hallenbauten in der Zeit des frühen Hellenismus, in: Akten des XIII. Internationalen Kongresses für Klassische Archäologie, Berlin 1988 (Berlin 1990) 72-74.
B. Emme, „Das Märchen von den drei Märkten“. Bauten merkantiler Funktion und die städtebauliche Entwicklung des hellenistischen Milet, IstMitt 63, 2013, 51–74.