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The Ionian Revolt (499-493 BC) was a rebellion by Greek city-states, against the rule of the Persian Empire. This
revolt was a serious challenge to the Persian Empire but was ultimately defeated. The Ionian Revolt nevertheless was to have a range of consequences for the Persian and the Greek Worlds. In the short term, the city states that revolted recovered rapidly and were to flourish for centuries. However, the Ionian Enlightenment or Awakening, which saw the birth of Ancient Greek philosophy and science, was effectively ended by the crushing of the uprising by Emperor Darius’ army and navy. Finally, the revolt was to trigger a series of events that ultimately led to the Greek and Persian Wars, that transformed the ancient world.
[[File: Ionian Revolt 1.jpg|200px|thumb|left|Ruins of Miletus]]
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.