In 377 BC, Halicarnassus was capital of a small kingdom along the Mediterranean coast of Anatolia. It was in that year the ruler of this land, Hecatomnus of Mylasa, died and left control of the kingdom to his son, Mausolus. Hecatomnus, a local satrap to the Persians, had been ambitious and had taken control of several of the neighboring cities and districts. Next to Mausolus and Artemisia he had several other sons and daughters: Ada, Idrieus, and Pixodarus. Mausolus in his time extended the territory even further so that it finally included most of southwestern Asia Minor. Maussollos, with his queen and sister Artemisia, ruled over Halicarnassus and the surrounding territory for 24 years. Maussollos, though he was descended from local people, spoke Greek and admired the Greek way of life and government. He founded many cities of Greek design along the coast and encouraged Greek democratic traditions.
Maussollos decided to build a new capital, a city as hard to capture as it was magnificent to look at. He chose the town Halicarnassus. If Mausolus' ships blocked a small channel, they could keep all enemy warships out. He started making Halicarnassus a fit capital for a warrior prince. His workmen deepened the city's harbor and used the dredged up sand to make protecting arms in front of the channel.