P opulations and cultures so important to define that of Porto Selvaggio on the west coast between Gallipoli and Porto Cesareo Uluzziana civilization. Pictograms, pottery and chipped utensils, attest to the presence of Neanderthal man in Salento.
Coming from the eastern coast of the Adriatic, a thousand years before Christ founded several city-states with solid fortifications. The fighting population did not allow the Greeks to invade the Salento, they were forced to settle in Taranto where the Magna Graecia was built.
The Messapians preserved their language, customs, traditions, and their currency.
The excavations of the Messapian cities brought out funerary objects full of testimonies. It was understood that the Messapians were an aristocratic, militarily evolved population which, however, did not fail to be influenced by Greek culture.
In the III century BC pushing towards the conquest of the East they canceled the Messapian dominion and Romanizing the whole peninsula, in reality the passage was more political: Octavian made good relations with the main exponents of Messapic aristocracy.
The road system through the Appian Way created the axis of connection between Rome and Salento, the port of Brindisi, a vital gangloo of their expansionist aims until the last stretch of the Via Traiana, which connected Brindisi to Otranto, facing east. Lecce, called Lupiae acquired a new urban layout and was equipped with the amphitheater and theater, public baths and the harbor in the bay of San Cataldo.
According to Herodotus (5th century BC) the Lycians came from Crete, originally Termili took the name from Lico son of the Athenian Pandion. Even Strabo (I century BC) reports that the Salentines are colonists of the Cretans