It can be argued that, even on a global scale, geoarchaeology made some of its first disciplinary steps on the mosaic-like and physiographically complex landscapes of Greece, providing valuable knowledge to the archaeology of an equally intricate cultural landscape. The long archaeological record of the country, manifested by impressive –and yet often enigmatic– archaeological sites, along with a pronounced littoral diversity, rendered the Greek seaboard an appropriate laboratory for the development of close working ties between archaeologists and earth scientists. Consequently, archaeological sites situated at or near the coast became the working fields where geoarchaeological techniques were first applied and tested. Notwithstanding an arguably exploratory character, the geoarchaeological studies carried out during this initial phase left a prominent imprint for the years to come: they were pioneering in the methodology that they advanced, offered original –and often unanticipated– data, and bolstered up a hitherto staggering effort of the Greek archaeology to respond to the epistemological calls of the processualist school of thought. A second phase in the history of regional geoarchaeological research in Greece is marked by what proved to be a long-lasting debate over the relative contribution of climatic versus anthropogenic impact on soil erosion, valley aggradation and landscape modification. Along with an improvement in dating methods and laboratory techniques, it has by now become all the more obvious that neither natural nor human-induced processes have left utterly unequivocal signals in the terrestrial records. While some first-order linkages can indeed be established, correlations between environmental and archaeological records are not always straightforward, and cannot be strengthened by merely associating different local sequences (natural or cultural) with a single process during one chronological horizon. As the discussion continues to the present, two main outcomes can be emphasized from the research carried out thus far in this domain: first, the importance of the complexities that arise due to the interrelations and feedbacks between different geomorphic and cultural agents –complexities that usually preclude monocausal or over-deterministic interpretations; second, the significant role (at least in Mediterranean settings) of extreme natural events that were brief and episodic but potentially of high magnitude and/or high frequency of recurrence, and which ‘pre-conditioned’ time-windows for terrestrial responses to environmental and/or cultural triggering factors.

Deciphering the temporal and spatial patterning in landscape change and its relation with human settlements remains a major concern for geoarchaeology in Greece by the advent of the twenty-first century. Geomorphological, paleoclimatic and ecological assessments provide the basis for palaeoenvironmental and palaeogeographic reconstructions, which are in turn used as frameworks for the examination of past socio-cultural developments. Whereas some studies offer diachronic accounts of the changes in the environmental context of an archaeological site, other investigations evaluate specific historical or archaeological hypotheses, or apply and test novel techniques and multi-method approaches. At the same time, the geoarchaeology of coastal settings continues to be commonly and effectively practiced, while research on human-environment interactions keeps fueling the discussion over the relative role of cultural and natural agents in the shaping of landscapes. In fact, recent macro-regional geoarchaeological approaches have shown how an earth-sciences perspective can shed light to archaeological questions with a spatio-temporal scale as broad as that related to the potential role of Greece in the earliest hominin dispersals and the first occupation of Eurasia (cf. Tourloukis and Karkanas 2012).

Even if geoarchaeology in Greece largely started off as a ‘coastline matter’, Davidson’s contribution to the first edited volume on geoarchaeology (Davidson and Shackley 1976) dealt with tell-formation processes; this should remind us that, like elsewhere in the globe, geoarchaeology in Greece was essentially born out of studies examining site formation processes. Undeniably, it is in this realm that the practice of geoarchaeology has gained momentum in Greece during the last decade: with an ever-growing body of microstratigraphic and micromorphological research, on-site geoarchaeological studies have provided high-resolution insights on a variety of crucial archaeological issues, elucidating processes related to site formation, post-depositional alterations, domestic activities, mortuary practices or the use of space (e.g. Karkanas 2002).

From the time-scale of the Quaternary glaciations and a landscape-wide areal extent, to the time-scale of a Mycenaean burial and the particle-size analysis of the microfacies in an occupation floor, geoarchaeology has proved to be a powerful tool that operates at a wide range of spatial and temporal scales. Yet, it is not so much the scale but the nature of the questions asked that will ultimately dictate the appropriate methodological toolkit to be used (cf. Brown 2008). Geoarchaeology has rightfully become an indispensable part of this toolkit for the analysis of contextual data and the interpretation of archaeological patterns. As this review has aspired to show, recent and on-going geoarchaeological applications in Greece are part of a long and successful legacy, which has early on laid the foundations and in fact raised the standards for even more fruitful geoarchaeological studies to appear in the future.