Situated on the edges of Tavoliere
(Apulian Table) in the Sub-Apennine Dauno in the province
of Foggia, Ordona was founded during the 9th Century not to
far from the ancient Herdonia centre which existed from the
7th Century BC.
The ancient centre, founded by the Daunii, immediately enjoyed
a noteworthy development and saw its maximum splendour. Its
economic decline began during the 4th Century BC. The construction
of defensive walls during this period suggests a period of
battles with other centres in the region, probably comprising
clashes with the Greek Hegemonic Cities in the territory,
among them neighbouring Taranto.
It passed over to the Romans, as with all of Puglia, after
the wars with the Greek-Messapian League, commanded by King
Pirro of Epiro (280-275 BC). Herdonia was protagonist during
the Second Punic War (219-202 BC) and in particular, during
the events linked to its most famous battle in Canne (Cannae)
on 2nd August 216 BC.
According to the Roman historian Livio, after the Battle of
Canne (Cannae), the City passed to Hannibal, then returned
immediately under the Romans (214 BC); taken once more by
the Carthaginian General Hannibal who demolished it completely
and saw its citizens transferred to Metaponto and Turi.
From this moment on, the City did not recover until its insertion
along the Via Traiana route, a coastal alternative of the
Via Appia (Appian Way), at the beginning of the 2nd Century
Today’s central habitation began in the 9th Century,
but had difficulties in developing due to terrible conditions
in the territory. In fact, during the Medieval era, the Tavoliere
delle Puglie (Apulian Table) lost its agricultural vocation
and became a main transhumance for sheep arriving from all
of central Italy.
The Jesuits took over the centre and tried to push Ordona’s
economy by reclaiming part of its territory and allowing families
to settle here.
In 1774, Ordona became part of Royal Bourbon property, allowing
important new reclamation work to take place throughout the
entire 19th Century.
Remains from the Roman Erdonia are situated in the following
areas: the Forum, the Augustea Basilica, a part of the Via
Traiana route where one can visit the remains of shops and
the Market (Macellum), the remains of a temple from the Imperial
era, the Amphitheatre and thermal baths with mosaic flooring.
Below this level, in the area of the Basilica, finds uncovered
tombs and houses from the Dauna City.
The diffusion of Christianity is testified by the remains
of a Paleochristian Basilica from the 6th Century AD.
Today’s digs have still not touched all the various
levels and the Erdonia site could still reserve many surprises
for archaeologists and enthusiastic visitors.