The first recorded settlers in Bodrum region were the Carians and the harbor area was colonized by Dorian Greeks as of the 7th century BC. The city later fell under Persian rule. Under the Persians, it was the capital city of the satrapy of Caria, the region that had since long constituted its hinterland and of which it was the principal port. Its strategic location ensured that the city enjoyed considerable autonomy. Archaeological evidence from the period such as the recently discovered Salmakis (Kaplankalesi) Inscription, now in Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology, attest to the particular pride its inhabitants had developed. A famous native was Herodotus, the Greek historian (484-420 BC).
Surviving substructures and ruins of the Mausoleum of Mausolus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, in Halicarnassus (modern Bodrum.)
Mausolus ruled Caria from here, nominally on behalf of the Persians and independent in practical terms for much of his reign between 377 to 353 BC. When he died in 353 BC, Artemisia II of Caria, who was both his sister and his widow, employed the ancient Greek architects Satyros and Pythis, and the four sculptors Bryaxis, Scopas, Leochares and Timotheus to build a monument, as well as a tomb, for him. The word « mausoleum » derives from the structure of this tomb. It was a temple-like structure decorated with reliefs and statuary on a massive base. It stood for 1700 years and was finally destroyed by earthquakes. Today only the foundations and a few pieces of sculpture remain.
Alexander the Great laid siege to the city after his arrival in Carian lands and, together with his ally, the queen Ada of Caria, captured it after heavy fighting.
Julian of Halicarnassus was bishop in the early 6th century. From the middle of the 6th century BC on, Halicarnassus was governed by the Persians.