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During the so-called Greek Dark Ages, many Greeks migrated to the Aegean coast of Asia Minor in what is now Turkey<ref. Thucydides, I, 7</ref>. Here the Aeolians, Dorians, and Ionians, established settlements that became city-states. Ionia was the area settled by the Ionian tribes and it was composed of twelve cities. They were independent, but they shared common places of worship and regularly cooperated with each other. Ionia became very wealthy especially Miletus, and it was in the 6th century the most important cultural center in the Greek world. <ref>, Holland, Tom. Persian Fire: The First World Empire and the Battle for the West (London, Doubleday, 2006), p 87</ref> These Greek city-states were conquered by the rising Kingdom of Lydia, ruled by the famed King Croesus. The city-states were able to secure a great deal of autonomy and continued to flourish, under the Lydians. This arrangement was upset by the rise of the Persian Empire, based in modern Iran, which is often regarded as the first ‘World-Empire’ <ref>Holland, p 3</ref>. Cyrus the Second, sometimes known as the Great, conquered the Median and Neo-Babylonian Empires and annexed the kingdom of Lydia, thereby establishing the Achaemenid Empire, the first Persian Empire. The Greek cities in Ionia were also annexed by Cyrus. The Achaemenid monarch and his successors respected local customs and religions and gave regions in their realms’ considerable autonomy<ref> Fine, JVA
(1983). The Ancient Greeks: A Critical History . Harvard University Press </ref>. However, the Ionian Greeks who were very urbanized and their democratic political systems proved very difficult to fit into this system. In order to control the Greek cities, Cyrus appointed local rulers with dictatorial powers, who were answerable to a Persian satrap or governor and this policy was also adopted by his son, Darius. This caused great unrest in cities such as Ephesus and Colophon, which had traditionally been democracies’, but this was ignored by the local Persian Satrap<ref> Hornblower, Simon (2011). The Greek World: 479–323 BC (4 ed.) . Abingdon: Routledge </ref>. In 500 BC the Satrap of Asia Minor held an assembly with the rulers who governed the Ionian cities in the name of Darius. There was increasingly rivalry among the tyrants, as they were known, and each sought to expand their territories at the expense of their neighbors. To preserve peace and stability in Ionia, the rulers were obliged to enter into an alliance and foreswore to attack each other. However, in BC 499, Aristagoras, the tyrant of Miletus sought to conquer the independent island of Naxos and add it to his territories. He tried to win support from his fellow Ionian tyrants’, but they refused. Aristagoras then secured some powerful Persians support and sought to conquer Naxos in the name of Darius <ref>Herodotus, v, 118</ref>. However, this invasion of Naxos was a military disaster and moreover, he owed some of his backers a great deal of money. Aristagoras knew he could be imprisoned or executed for his failure on Naxos. The tyrant of Miletus decided to gamble on a rebellion. He devised an audacious plan, he encouraged the other Ionians cities to depose their pro-Persian rulers and to restore their old governments. The region was ripe for rebellion. He managed to incite a series of revolutions in Ionia that led to the inhabitants expelling or killing their pro-Persian governors. This also spread to the Aeolian and Dorian Greek communities on the Aegean Coast.
[[File: Ionian Revolt 2.jpg|200px|thumb|left| Detail from a vase showing a Greek and Persian warrior]]
==The Ionian Revolt==
Aristagoras knew that the Persians would not accept Ionian independence and that Darius would swiftly seek to re-conquer the region with a huge army. In desperation, he traveled to Sparta to secure help from the most powerful state in Greece. When it refused he traveled around Greece, seeking men, money, and ships. Only the Athenians and the Eretians agreed to provide help to the Ionian rebels whom they regarded as their fellow kinsmen <ref>Herodotus, v, 114</ref>. Furthermore, both of these cities were democracies and Aristagoras impassioned pleadings swayed the popular assemblies. The Athenians and Eretians sent a large number of hoplites and ships to support the Ionians. The arrivals of these reinforcements persuaded the rebel to go on the offensive in 498 BC. The allies marched on the important city of Sardis and burned most of the city but could not seize the citadel. The rebels retreated to Ephesus, but they were annihilated by a large force of Persians <ref>Brosius, Maria. "The Ionian Revolt, 498–494 BC." The Encyclopaedia of Ancient Battles (2017): 1-7</ref>. Aristagoras, decided to continue the revolt and convinced more Greek cities to join him and even persuaded the Carians to join an anti-Persian alliance <ref>Herodotus, v 115</ref>. Then various kingdoms on the island Cyprus joined the revolt, but the Athenians withdrew their support at this time. In 497 BC, the Persian Emperor, sent three of his sons-in-law with a large army to crush the rebellion. Soon they had restored Cyprus to obedience and executed its rulers. Part of Darius’ army was able to defeat the Carians at the Battle of the Marsyas River. The remnants of the Carian army were joined by Milesian forces, but this new army was later badly defeated by soldiers of Darius <ref>Herodotus, v, 120</ref>. A Persian commander ordered an attack on the Carians, presumably to end their resistance once and for all. However, they had found out about the plan and launched a night-time ambush and destroyed the enemy forces with all its generals. This brought the rebels some respite. The following year the Persians changed their strategy and they directly attacked the Ionian cities and they besieged and seized several cities. Aristogros knew that his rebellion was doomed, and he fled to Thrace where he was later killed. The Milesians and others continued to defy Darius, and they placed their faith in their large fleet. The Persian commanders assembled a large naval taskforce, crewed by their subject peoples, especially the Phoenicians. This armada sailed to Ionia and met the rebel fleet at Lade in 494 BC. The larger Persian fleet utterly defeated the rebel navy <ref>Holland, p 99</ref>. Also, in 494 BC the army of Darius captured the city of Miletus, which was devastated. By now leaderless, the rebellion collapsed, and Ionia was reincorporated into the Persian Empire and by 493 BC, the last remnants of resistance to Darius had collapsed.