ARDEA, a town of the Rutuli in Latium, 3 m. from the S.W. coast, where its harbour (Castrum Inui) lay, at the mouth of the stream now known as Fosso dell' Incastro, and 23 m. S. of Rome by the Via Ardeatina. It was founded, according to legend, either by a son of Odysseus and Circe, or by Danae, the mother of Perseus. It was one of the oldest of the coast cities of Latium, and a place of considerable importance; according to tradition the Ardeatines and Zacynthians joined in the foundation of Saguntum in Spain. It was the capital of Turnus, the opponent of Aeneas. It was conquered by Tarquinius Superbus, and appears as a Roman possession in the treaty with Carthage of 509 B.C., though it was later one of the thirty cities of the Latin league. In 445 B.C. an unfair decision by the Romans in a frontier dispute with Aricia led, according to the Roman historians, to a rising; the town became a Latin colony 442 B.C., and shortly afterwards it appears as the place of exile of Camillus. It had the charge of the common shrine of Venus in Lavinium. It was devastated by the Samnites, was one of the 12 Latin colonies that refused in 209 B.C. to provide more soldiers, and was in 186 used as a state prison, like Alba and Setia. In imperial times the unhealthiness of the place led to its rapid decline, though it remained a colony. In the forests of the neighbourhood the imperial elephants were kept. A road, the Via Ardeatina, led to Ardea direct from Rome; the gate by which it left the Servian wall was the Porta Naevia; a large tomb behind the baths of Caracalla lay on its course. The gate by which it left the Aurelian wall has been obliterated by the bastion of Antonio da Sangallo (Ch. Hülsen in Römische Mitteilungen, 1894, 320).
The site of the primitive city, which later became the citadel, is occupied by the modern town; it is situated at the end of a long plateau between two valleys, and protected by perpendicular tufa cliffs some 60 ft. high on all sides except the north-east, where it joins the plateau. Here it is defended by a fine wall of opus quadratum of tufa, in alternate courses of headers and stretchers. Within its area are scanty remains of the podium of a temple and of buildings of the imperial period. The road entering it from the south-west is deeply cut in the rock. The area of the place was apparently twice extended, a further portion of the narrow plateau, which now bears the name of Civita Vecchia, being each time taken in and defended by a mound and ditch; the nearer and better-preserved is about m. from the city and measures some 2000 ft. long, 133 ft. wide and 66 ft. high, the ditch being some 80 ft. wide. The second, m. farther north-east, is smaller. In the cliffs below the plateau to the north are early rock habitations, and upon the plateau primitive Latin pottery has been found. In 1900 a group of tombs cut in the rock was examined; they are outside the farther mound and ditch, and belong, therefore, to the period after the second extension of the city.
See O. Richter, in Annali dell' Istituto (1884), 90; J.H. Parker in Archaeologia, xlix. 169 (1885); A. Pasqui, in Notizie degli scavi, (1900) 53.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)