Much of the evidence for the changes which scholars perceive in the Late Roman-to-Early Byzantine periods (the ‘Late Antique era’) and in the ‘Dark Age’-to-Middle Byzantine periods in the eastern empire, that is, changes occurring between the mid third and the eighth-to-ninth centuries, whether this evidence is textual, archaeological, or topographical, concerns in one way or another what might be called the upper levels of the settlement-system. These levels consist of settlements or sites distinguishable at various times from the undefended rural majority (or what in most areas forms the majority) of settlements by status (i.e., civic, that of a polis), form, size, situation, or associated functions. They may for present purposes be simply categorised as civic urban settlements, non-civic urban settlements, and non-civic non-urban fortifications or fortified settlements. To study the fate of such places, as settlements and as communities, is to confront the cultural, economic, and internal political history of the period in all its complexity, a task which in most respects is inconceivable without recourse to archaeology and topography. The following observations concern the need to rectify some imbalances in the emphases of research which distort some general analyses of the history of Late Antique and also Middle Byzantine settlements, and so distort our view of cultural, economic, and political change in the periods named.