This book seeks to offer an overview of the archaeological and structural evidence for one of the most vital periods of Italian history, spanning the late Roman and early medieval periods. The chronological scope thus covers the adoption of Christianity and the emergence of Rome as the seat of western Christendom, the break-up of the Roman West in the face of internal decay and the settlement of non-Romans and Germanic groups, the impact of Germanic and Byzantine rule on Italy until the rise of Charlemagne and of a Papal State in the later eighth century. Too long neglected as a ‘Dark Age’, the period has recently become the focus of much scholarly debate on the part of historians, art historians, numismatists, architectural historians, and most importantly, archaeologists. Indeed, a vastly different image can now be presented for Italy, its towns and its society than was available in the 1970s and 1980s. In this the impact of archaeological excavations, within towns, villas, churches and castles, has been substantial. The aim of this book is to present a broad survey and analysis of these recent discoveries, to identify the changes brought by the Church in town and country, the level of change within Italy under Rome even before the Germanic invasions, and the following occupation by Ostrogoths, Byzantines and Lombards, and to review wider changes in urbanism, rural exploitation and defence. The volume does not seek to review the individual archaeologies of the Germanic successors or to trace any specific Byzantine imprint; much work has been done lately to reconsider the role and character of the new powers of the fifth to seventh centuries – as in major exhibitions and conferences (such as I Longobardi, I Goti) – and in particular to consider questions of identity, ethnicities, acculturations. Instead, my emphasis is on human settlement on its varied levels – town, country, fort, refuge – and the assessment of how these evolved and the changes that impacted on them. I will seek to avoid linking history directly with archaeology and trying to merge political changes with physical transformations in town or country; whilst some links are present, these are not dominant and the chapters look more for longer term trends and changes.