According to the ancient Greek tradition Carians were the people who had migrated to the southwest of Anatolia from the surrounding Aegean islands. This mountainous area is surrounded by Ionia, Phyrigia and Lycia.
Caria was seized by the Lydian kingdom in the 7th century B.C. Then Persians took over the country when they conquered Lydian kingdom in 546 B.C. This final situation did not affect the political influence of the Carian princes' over the Caria region and even some neighbouring Hellenic cities. They became very influencial during the 4th century B.C.
After the death of king Hekatomnos in 377 B.C. his elder son Maussollos became the king. He was married to his sister Artemisia. He became part of the revolt against Artaxerxes Mnemon II and seized a large part of Lydia and some Hellenic islands. He was sided with Rhodos against their war with Athens. Then, he declared Halicarnassus (Bodrum, a resort town of Turkey) as the capital of Caria and transferred the palace from Mylasa (Milas) to the new capital.
He was a deep admirer of Helenistic art and brought some famous Greek artists and architects to renovate and decorate the Carian cities. The famous monumental building known as "Maussolleion" (a name derived from his name) was the largest and most spectacular tomb ever built in Hellenistic times. This building is classified as one of the "Seven Wonders of Antiquity". Because of the building's grandeur the name of "Mausoleum" was used for the tombs of Roman emperors Augustus and Hadrianus.
Artemisia became the Queen of Caria after the death of his husband Maussollos. When she died in 351 B.C. Hekatomnos's second son Idrieus became the king. His sudden death led his wife Ada to claim the sovereignity but Hekatonos's 3rd son Pixodaros forced Ada to leave the city for exile. He declared himself as the king and invited the king of Persia to appoint an administrator to share the rule of the kingdom with himself.
As Alexander the Great conquered Caria in 334 B.C. he forced the Persian and existing Carian rulers out of the kingdom and handed the rule to the previous Queen on exile, Ada. After his death, initially Pergamum kingdom in 180 B.C. and later the Roman Empire took over the kingdom in 133 B.C.