Apulia is one of the richest archaeological regions in Italy. It was first colonized by Mycenaean Greeks. At the 8th century BC, the Ancient Greeks expanded until reaching the area of Taranto and Salento in Magna Graecia. In the 5th and 4th centuries BC, the Greek settlement at Taras produced a distinctive style of pottery (Apulian vase painting).
Apulia was an important area for the ancient Romans, who conquered it during the course of wars against the Samnites and against Pyrrhus in the 4th and 3rd centuries BC but also suffered a crushing defeat here in the battle of Cannae against Hannibal. However, after the Carthaginians left the region, the Romans captured the ports of Brindisi and Taranto, and established dominion over the region. During the Imperial age Apulia was a flourishing area for production of grain and oil, becoming the most important exporter to the Eastern provinces.