Palaeoenvironment and land use of Roman peasant farmhouses in southern Tuscany

Archaeo-environmental data were obtained from five small rural sites excavated as part of the Roman Peasant Project in southern Tuscany. Archaeo-botanical and archaeological data point to a moment of intensive land use in the late Republican/Early Imperial date and to possible use of convertible agriculture strategies. The diversity of pasture-grazing plant species, the presence of coprophilous fungi, parasite eggs and the high values of pasture indicator pollen suggest that lands devoted to browsing animals covered an important part of the territory all around and in the vicinity of sites. The significant presence of cereals, with occasional presence of vines and olives, attests to the importance of grain agriculture in the same spaces. These data may be read as residues of convertible agricultural strategies in which pasture, including cultivated fodder, alternated with legumes and cereals. Read together, the data thus point to a major moment of intensified use and management of the land.