‘Gnathia’ pottery samples, dating back to the mid-fourth and third century BC, from the archaeological site of Egnazia (Fasano, Brindisi, Italy) have been characterised from the physical-chemical, mineralogical and morphological points of view. Optical and scanning electron microscopy, X-ray energy-dispersive spectroscopy and X-ray diffraction analyses have been carried out on the ceramic body, black gloss, white, yellow and red over-paintings of fragments, with the aim of outlining technological features and defining the nature of coatings and decorations. Analytical results confirm from both a technological and morphological/decorative point of view the close relationship between ‘Gnathia’ pottery and red figured pottery, particularly with the Apulian red figured from which it takes its inspiration. At the same time the experimental results highlight shared characteristics and differences with both Attic and Apulian red figured productions. The biggest difference is in the utilisation of the ‘ingobbio rosso’ layer that covers the ceramic body. This does not seem to be based on aesthetic grounds, as in the case of Apulian red figured pottery, but on application of acquired production processes, since ‘Gnathia’ pottery was made in the same workshops as red figured pottery. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.