The ancient worlds:  

Maps of the Antique
Mediterranean Sea



     Magna Graecia

     Some dates
     Archaeological sites
     Pottery and ceramics



From the archaeological point of view, Apulia is a complex world: the items we see today, coming from the civilisations which lived in that geographical area, show a large variety of shapes and types, even when relatively contemporary. What common points exist between a daunian pottery, showing clearly neolithic inspiration, a satuette from Canosa close to the greek hellenistic terracotta and the glazed potteries which are sometimes difficult to distinguish from the Athenian production, when some other present purely regional characteristics, sometimes related with the campanian or sicilian production of Magna Graecia ?

Let us try to throw some light on this complexity. First, we have to consider the immigration of the Iapyge populations, which preceded by a few centuries the great period of greek colonization.
But unlike what occured in Sicily for example, one can hardly speak of greek colonization in Apulia, with some rare exceptions like Taranto. In fact, the greeks met in Sicily or western Italy with people who had already partially assimilated some elements of the mycenian civilizations, but who immigrated later towards the inland during the "darks times" (1100 to 800 B.C.). On the contrary, in Apulia, the Greeks encountered organized people with their cities and their own structure.

From the political point of view, the relations between the greek colonists and the natives were difficult, often even conflicting. In 473 B.C., Taranto and its ally Rheggio were severely defeated by Messapians and Peucetians. From the cultural point of view on the other hand, this antagonism did not prevent the Hellenic culture from circulating and penetrating deeply in Apulia.


Around 1300 B.C., an Illyrian population, maybe joint by refugees of the ruined mycenian cities, reached the south of Italy. They probably mix up with the natives named Ausones or Osci. This new culture known as " Iapyge" will live in southern Italy between the VIIth and the 3rd century B.C., up to the Roman conquest. Towards 700 B.C., it gives rise to three populations : the Daunians in the north, the Peucetians in the center and the Messapians in the south.

The large quantity of terracotta vases found in the tombs constitutes the main material trace of these people who did not write. Their common denomination as Iapyges is taught by the greek geographer Strabon, under the reign of Augustus. Their country, Iapudia, will become Apulia, nowadays Puglia. Pastors and warriors, the Iapyges were organized in a seigneurial type society living in fortified sites on the coasts as well as in the alluvial plains and on the hills


While colonization achieved its goals elsewhere, while Taranto, Syracuse or Poseidonia are totally hellenic cities, the greek cultural influence begins to penetrate deeper towards the end of the 5th century B.C. At that moment, Athens, which kept the first rank on the international ceramics trade, collapses after its defeat in the Peloponnesian War. Athenian artists emigrate to Italy and built up new workshops. In Apulia, this influence is essentially limited to the artistic production: there are no large constructions as seen in other archaeological sites, nor the temples which symbolize elsewhere the greek cultural influence. This influences and the regional characteristics will thus appear mostly in the art of pottery and ceramics.