For much of Italy, the second half of the sixth century was fraught with danger: sporadic warfare, conquest, pandemic, and climate change, in addition to further crises catalyzed by these events such as famine and economic decline. While the impacts of these events are frequently recorded in written sources, sometimes in parallel with the archaeological records, a different story emerges from the fossil pollen records reflecting the ecology of human-managed landscapes. Taking two sites as case studies, a local perspective from Rieti in central Italy and a larger regional synthesis from Sicily, we see records that demonstrate the impact of different human drivers. The arrival of the Lombards and changing economic and administrative systems were the main factors in the transformation of landscapes during this period as local communities continued the management of their agricultural, pastoral, and silvicultural resources.

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