Ardea, Lazio

The excavated temple at Ardea


A geophysical survey was carried out at the site of Le Salzare – Fosso dell’Incastro (Ardea, Comune di Roma) on the 7th April 2009. The geophysical survey carried out on the behalf of Dott. Francesco Di Mario of the Soprintendenza per I Beni Archeologici per il Lazio was part of a wider investigation into the site of an early sanctuary and Roman port. The survey was conducted by a joint team from the British School at Rome (BSR) and the Archaeological Prospection Services of Southampton (APSS).

Le Salzare – Fosso dell’Incastro lies 40 kilometres to the southwest of Rome and 5 kilometres to the south of the ancient city of Ardea, in an area known as Le Salzare. The area currently being investigated by the Soprintendenza per I Beni Archeologici per il Lazio lies at the mouth of the river Fosso dell’Incastro.

The site at Le salzare was first discovered in the late 19th Century. During excavations of the structural remains associated with the Roman river port of Ardea, the Soprintendenze per I Beni Archeologici per il Lazio discovered an important sanctuary complex, composed of several Temples, altars and a wall marking the limit of the sacred precinct (Di Mario, 2009).

Geophysical survey using GPR was employed focusing on the identification of features and structures relating to the earliest phase of the temple. The survey concentrated on the tufa floors of the podium, the latest phase of which was a layer of cocciopesto approximately 20cm in depth, still present in discreet patches across the floor.

At the centre of the sanctuary complex, is a paved square of tufa blocks, on which lie two altars, built of peperino, which have been dated to the 4th to 3rdcenturies BC. The area around these two altars was also subject to a GPR survey, with the aim of revealing any previous features underneath the paved square associated to the earlier temple.


A time slice of the GPR results


The results of this survey demonstrate that the later phases of the temple were built on a similar alignment as the earlier construction. Interestingly, anomalies within the data set indicate the existence of possible remnants of the destruction and infill of the earlier structural phase with a material similar to that used in the later construction. The estimated depths of anomalies within the temple suggest that the early phase is contemporary with the construction of the north-south division wall discovered in the excavated cella, which increases an understanding of the layout of the early phases of the temple.


Rendered Isosurface of the GPR results


Further Reading

Di Mario, F. (2007) Ardea. La terra dei Rutuli tra mito e archeologia: alle radici della romanità. Nuovi dati dai recenti scavi archeologici. Roma.

Di Mario, F. (2009) “L’area archeologica in località Le Salzare, Fosso dell’Incastro, in Lazio e Sabina 5.” Scoperte Scavi e Ricerche. a cura di G. Ghini, Roma : 331-346.

Di Mario, F. (2009) “Ardea, il santuario di Fosso dell’Incastro, atti del Convegno Sacra Nominis Latini.” Un trentennio di scoperte nei santuari di area latina tra l’età arcaica e la tarda repubblica, Roma, 19-21 febbraio 2009, in press.