Historical Context: This Gnatha Skyphos (large cup) is typical of pottery produced in Apulia (southeastern Italy) and the Mediterranean area about 275 to 225 BC. This is the era just after Alexander the Great and the begining of the rise of the Roman Republic.
Apulia is a region in southeastern Italy bordering the Adriatic Sea in the east, the Ionian Sea to the southeast. Its southern portion known as Salento, a peninsula, forms a high heel on the "boot" of Italy. The region extends as far north as Monte Gargano, and was the scene of the last stages in the Second Punic War. One of the richest in Italy for archeological findings, the region was settled from the 1st millennium BC by several Illyric and Italic peoples. In the fifth and fourth 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 fourth and third 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.