Egnazia is located at the boundary between the Messapian region, corresponding to the south of Apulia, and Peucetia, corresponding to the central part of the region, thus representing a cultural border area. Starting from the 6th century B.C. the settlement spreads beyond the limits of the acropolis, site of the oldest settlement, and divides up into groups of huts—with funerary spaces attached—spreading over the area that will be occupied by the future town.
The group of huts referable to the emerging families remains on the acropolis and in its central part it contains a sacred area that will later become one of the most important places of worship during the Roman period. The spaces for residential use also comprehend production facilities, such as the two pottery kilns on the cliff that have not been damaged—yet—by the action of the sea. The port uses the inlets at the foot of the acropolis and records exchanges mainly with Greece.
Egnazia becomes a town in the late 4th century B.C., when the settlement, spread out over a surface of about 140 hectares, is enclosed by an approximately two-kilometre-wide fortification. The surrounding wall, erected also for defensive purposes during the difficult period of the battles between Taranto and the Lucanians, is reinforced in the 3rd century B.C. with the construction of a second curtain wall and with a new and wider moat. The north end of the new structure, traditionally known as “muraglione” (massive wall) and today stretching out into the sea, is slightly shorter than its original height of eight metres. More portions of the wall are preserved also along the road “delle Carceri”, from where the Archaeological Park can be accessed, in addition to the structures that have been discovered near Masseria Cimino, now included in the visit.
With the development of the town, a large public area is laid at the foot of the acropolis and enriched with a beaten-earth square delimited with paved borders. In the Roman period this square will be used as a market and monumentalised with porticoes.
Within the surrounding wall, a necropolis along the coast and burials found in several spots between the public area and the walls are connected to the main groups of houses, which are still of scattered type. These burials are often chamber tombs with valuable paintings and rich grave goods, considered a display of wealth of the local ruling class. Outside the walls two large necropolises are created during this period, which, according to their position with respect to the defensive wall, are known as western necropolis and southern necropolis. These are funerary areas that will be kept active and enlarged during the Roman and late Roman periods, when burying the dead within the surrounding wall was not allowed.