Herodotus, dubbed the Father of History by Cicero, lived in the 5th century B.C. and was born in Halicarnassus (today’s Bodrum). He wrote in his History that when the Dorian colonists arrived in Halicarnassus they found a Carian town. Halicarnassus was part of the Delos confederation until 546 B.C. When the Persians overran the Greek cities on the Anatolian coast, Halicarnassus fell with the rest.
The Persian strap of Caria made Mylasa his capital. When Mausolus inherited the satrapy, he fortified the frontiers, imposed high taxes, and began building his famous tomb, which was not finished in his lifetime. He also transferred the capital from Mylasa to Halicarnassus. He died in 352 B.C. and was succeeded by his wife-sister Artemisia II. She ruled for only three years, but accomplished two memorable feats. The first was to finish building the Mausoleum, which became one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World; the second was a brilliant success in battle that rivaled that of Artemisia I.
All four sides of the famous tomb were covered by friezes carved by the finest artists of the day. Their abundance and magnificence made the Mausoleum a spectacular sight. Some remaining fragments are in the collection of the British Museum.
Alexander the Great plundered Anatolia with remarkable speed; he reached Halicarnassus in 334 B.C. and burned the city walls when the people refused to surrender. He restored power to Ada, a former strap who had been overthrown. Halicarnassus never regained its status after Alexander’s conquest. In the third century B.C., it came under control of Ptolemy II of Egypt. When Rome conquered it in 190 B.C., it again became a free city.
By 400 A.D., with the fall of Rome and the rise of Christianity, Halicarnassus had developed into a Diocese connected to the Archbishopric of Aphrodisias.
Toward the end of 13th century, the region known as Caria became the province of Menteshe; it was annexed to the Ottoman Empire by Sultan Beyazıt in 1392. In 1402, the Mongol leader Tamerlane defeated the Knights of St. John, and destroyed their castle at Symyrna/Izmir.The knights demanded land from the Ottomans as compensation. Given Halicarnassus, they built a new castle and controlled the town for more than a century. In 1523, the greatest of all sultans, Suleyman the Magnificent, expelled the knights.
Bodrum and its castle were shelled by the Russian Navy in 1770, and used as a Turkish naval base during the Greek revolt of 1824. During the First World War, the French battleship Duplex fired on Bodrum and attempted a landing. Italian forces occupied the town in 1919; the Turkish War of Independence drove them out in 1922.
The Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archeology is a significant site and institution, which displays findings from nearby (underwater excavations, including artifacts, jewellery, coins, and glass dating from AD 1025 Serçe Limanı shipwreck). Oğuz Alpözen, the museum’s Director, supervised the development of the institution. He joined the underwater excavation team led by Dr. George F. Bass, and his active participation during the early years of nautical archaeology in the area well qualified him for his appointments as Director in 1978. His honours include the museum being recognized as “museum of the year” under his tenure.
Late Professor Ümit Serdaroğlu restored the beautiful Roman theatre that overlooks the town.