In an overview of Ancient Greek pottery, perhaps no single type is as charming as the fish
plates of Apulia. The Greek colonies of southern Italy (known in antiquity as Magna Graecia) were marked by their initial allegiance to the ceramic styles of the Attic mainland. However, over the years, native traditions and innovations heavily influenced the works of Magna Grecian potters. Unorthodox forms and painting-styles were seamlessly merged with the standard Greek style, creating distinctive works of art unique to the Hellenistic world. The Apulian fish plate, originating in the Eastern province of Apulia situated along the Adriatic Sea, is a perfect example of this gorgeous hybrid style. Three large fish are depicted along the surface of the plate while shells and other smaller aquatic creatures fill in the voids. While the red-figure painting technique derives from the mainland, the subject matter is uniquely Apulian and reveals their nature as a sea-based culture. As a colony of Greeks situated on a foreign peninsula, the sea was a link to their homeland. The bountiful waters of the Mediterranean provided them with food and sustenance. Most importantly, the sea provided access to foreign markets where their pottery could be exported. Apulian works of art were widely collected throughout the Classical world, even rivaling the popularity of Attic vessels. We gazing upon this fanciful work of art, it is easy to understand why this distinctive style of work was so popular in antiquity and remains so with collectors today.