Towards the end of the VI century B.C., a massive immigration of peoples of Samnite origin started an incredibly strong new ethnic group: the Lucanians.
The Lucanians integrated with indigenous people and captured even powerful and well-defended Greek towns such as Poseidonia and Laos.
In the following decades the Lucanians managed to menace the strong towns on the Jonian coast too: Taranto, Metaponto, Heracleia and Thurii, creating the ‘Grande Leukania’, which extended from the river Sele to the town of Thurii. The Lucanian society was ruled by an oligarchy, within which a Basileus (king) was chosen in case of war. He was in power throughout the time of crisis.
Towards the middle of the IV century, the Lucanians had to face the rebellion of the inhabitants of the south-western area, called ‘Brettians’, until their definitive separation.
At the end of the IV century and during the III century B.C., the Lucanians were involved, directly or as mercenaries, in a series of bloody wars on several fronts and in particular against Rome which caused a general impoverishment of the area leading to the abandonment of a lot of preexistent settlements.