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The Hellenistic age
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The Hellenistic age includes the period that dates from the death of Alexander the Great (323 BC) to the Roman conquest of Egypt (30 BC), during which Greek language, religion, traditions art and artefacts spread throughout the Mediterranean. A long period of crisis began for the Peucetia countryside, which would lead to the abandonment of the town centres.
The cultural context of 4th century Peucetia seems to have changed completely during the second half of the 3rd century BC. The country came under the influence of Roman power, following the collapse of Taranto’s hegemony and it was struck by an economic and social crisis caused by the unravelling of the entire system of existing relations between the Ionian city and the indigenous towns. Sidion was besieged and destroyed by the Romans in 305 BC and a phase of de-population began. It seems that several inhabited centres, especially inland ones were abandoned and the land reorganized into a network of scattered farms. This phase of impoverishment is also noticeable in the funerary finds, with the exception of a few exhibitions of wealth, like the Tomb of the Jewels (Tomba degli Ori) of Altamura (2nd century BC).
The tombs were still pits, with a few cave-like or sarcophagus-like examples and some traditions, like inhumation in a crouched position, continued. The vases in the funereal paraphernalia became display objects with a purely symbolic function and the divinities-displaying terracotta, also of symbolic significance, increased in number. The factor that sealed the fate of the territory of Peucetia though, was the Roman plan to reorganize the road network by using two communication routes to cross the Apulian region. The Appian Way which followed and old prehistoric trail and reached Taranto after passing through a few local centres (Gravina, Altamura), was soon replaced by the older and more convenient herd track, that became the Trajan Way, which linked Rome with Brindisi, via Ruvo and the Apulian coastal towns. This was the decision that caused the downfall of the inland countryside which, at the beginning of the Imperial age, definitively lost its status.

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