After Assos, Paul went onto Mitylene in 56 AD before heading to Samos , a Greek island located in the eastern part of the Aegean Sea. During ancient times, the region was known as a wealthy and powerful city-state that served as home of Pythagoreion and Heraion of Samos. In this article, you will learn information regarding significant stops during St. Paul’s third missionary journey, including Miletus.
Today, Samos is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where you will find a highlight of ancient engineering called the Eupalinian aqueduct. Samos is also the birthplace of the infamous Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras, who is responsible for conjuring up the Pythagorean Theorem. Others who have claimed Samos as their home is the philosopher Epicurus and the astronomer Aristarchus of Samos, who is credited as being the first known individual to propose the theory that the Earth revolves around the sun. The island also had a reputation for producing delicious Samian wine, which is still a claim to fame for the region to this day.
Located close to the coast of western Turkey, Miletus was the next destination that Paul reached on his third missionary journey. In the past, the city had a great reputation until the silting up of its harbors caused the notoriety of the city to decline. Over the years, the city has served as home to numerous well-preserved ruins, such as a Temple of Apollo, a Byzantine church, and a significant inscription related to Jews. During ancient days, Miletus had a strategic location with four harbors situated on west coast of Asia Minor. The waters allowed the city to become a major influence in the current of its times. The open entry of the waters also made it a target of invaders who wished to benefit from this asset. However, it was not opponents that led to the downfall of Miletus, it was the Meander River, which silted up over time.
Minoans from Crete first called Miletus their home in 1400 BC. Mycenaeans from the Peloponnese were the next inhabitants to take over. During the Dorian invasion, refugees from Greece poured into the region. The city grew prosperous and many became wealthy , thanks to the colonies on the Mediterranean, the Black Sea and even as far as Egypt. At one time, Miletus was the most important of the 12 cities of Ionia. According to Homer in The Iliad, the city was also one of the first cities in the ancient world to mint coins.
In 499 BC, the Persians destroyed Miletus and Didyma, and Ephesus became the newest city to become the most important in the region. Over time, Miletus was rebuilt and the city slowly gained back some of its esteem. The city has served as home to a variety of citizens of ancient times, including prominent philosophers of nature and space, such as Thales, Anaximander and Anaximenes.