The Iapyges or Iapygians were an Indo-European people who inhabited the heel of Italy (modern Apulia) before being absorbed by the Romans.


The Iapyges have origins either from Illyria [Talbert, Richard J. A. "Atlas of Classical History". Routledge, 1985, ISBN 0415034639, p. 85. "...from Illyrians, known as Iapyges, who settled first in the heel of Italy and then spread north..."] or from the island of Crete. [Herodotus. "The Histories", [http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?lookup=Hdt.+7.170.1 7.170.1] . "Now Minos, it is said, went to Sicania, which is now called Sicily, in search for Daedalus, and perished there by a violent death. Presently all the Cretans except the men of Polichne and Praesus were bidden by a god to go with a great host to Sicania. Here they besieged the town of Camicus, where in my day the men of Acragas dwelt, for five years. Presently, since they could neither take it nor remain there because of the famine which afflicted them, they departed. However, when they were at sea off Iapygia, a great storm caught and drove them ashore. Because their ships had been wrecked and there was no way left of returning to Crete, they founded there the town of Hyria, and made this their dwelling place, accordingly changing from Cretans to Messapians of Iapygia, and from islanders to dwellers on the mainland."]

They spoke the Messapian language since the Messapians themselves were the southernmost tribe of the Iapyges. Their other tribes included the Dauni and the Peucetii. [Peck, Harry Thurston. "Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities". New York: Harper and Brothers, 1898, " [http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus%3atext%3a1999.04.0062&query=id%3dapulia#id,apulia Apulia] ". "A district which included, in its widest signification, the whole of the southeast of Italy from the river Frento to the promontory Iapygium. In its narrower sense it was the country east of Samnium, on both sides of the Aufidus, the Daunia and Peucetia of the Greeks; the southeast part was called Calabria by the Romans. The Greeks gave the name of Daunia to the north part of the country from the Frento to the Aufidus, of Peucetia to the country from the Aufidus to Tarentum and Brundusium, and of Iapygia or Messapia to the whole of the remaining southern part; though they sometimes included under Iapygia all Apulia in its widest meaning. The country was very fertile, especially in the neighbourhood of Tarentum, and the mountains afforded excellent pasturage. The population was of a mixed nature: they were for the most part of Illyrian origin, and are said to have settled in the country under the guidance of Iapyx, Daunius, and Peucetius, three sons of an Illyrian king, Lycaon. Subsequently many towns were founded by Greek colonists. The Apulians joined the Samnites against the Romans, and became subject to the latter on the conquest of the Samnites."]

The name "Iapyges" is derived from Greek authors who linked the tribe's origin to Dedalus's son Iapyges. They were called "Apuli", "Salentini" (or "Sallentini") and "Calabri" by Roman authors. Iapygians were akin to the Oenotrians, an ancient Italic people who lived in the territory of Basilicata and Northern Calabria.


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