Iapyges, Apuli, Japiges (or Japigët in albanian) were an ancient tribe of indo-european origins which came from Illyria. They settled in a region of the italian peninsula, today known as Apulia, bewteen the second and the first millennium BC.
They came from Illyria (more precisely from the region now known as Albania) and they spoke a messapic language. They were shepherds and farmers, and the name of their tribe was given by greeks who thought they originated from Daedalus's son, Iapyge. When they crossed the sea they reached the southern part of the italian peninsula and intermarried with indigenous populations, creating three different ethnic groups, which the greek called Daunii, Peucetii and Messapii.
The region inhabited by Daunii and Peucetii was called Apulia by roman authors, and the region inhabited by Messapii was called Calabria.
Iapyges were related to Enotrii, another tribe of Illyrian origins which lived in Basilicata and in northern Calabria.
Between the eighth and the fourth century BC, the Iapyges reached the aphex of their magnificence, as demonstrated by their ceramics (pottery called "Trozzelle") and their characteristic cult of the dead of the Daunii.
Bewteen the eighth and the sixth century BC, during the greek colonization of the mediterranean sea the Iapyges formed a great resistance against the hellenic civilization. The Iapyges-Messapii managed to win an important battle in 473 BC, as remembered by Erodotus. After that, though, Taranto, allied with Daunii and Peucetii, managed to defeat the Messapii.
In general the Daunii, which were distant from Taranto, remained largely free of greek influcence and preferred trading with Liburnii, another tribe of Illyrian origins, which settled alongside the adriatic coast (Piceno) and in Dalmatia.
Messapii and Peucetii were near Taranto and other cities of Magna Graecia, and received some greek influence, though they retained formal independence until the arrival of the Romans.
The first city which was founded by Messapii was Oria, near Brindisi.
The founders of these centers of art were the Painter of Sysiphus and the Painter of the (female) Dancer, around 425 BC, they created the most important styles with which many objects were created, including vases, jars of various kinds and shape.