Tourloukis, V. and Karkanas, P. 2012.   Geoarchaeology in Greece: A Review. In: (Ed.) Emmanuel Skourtsos, and Gordon S. Lister, The Geology of Greece, Journal of the Virtual Explorer, Electronic Edition, ISSN 1441-8142, volume 42, paper 4, doi:10.3809/jvirtex.2012.00304

Geoarchaeology in Greece: A Review

Vangelis Tourloukis

Paleoanthropology, Institut für Ur- und Frühgeschichte und Archäologie des Mittelalters, and Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Paleoecology Rümelinstr. 23, D-72070 Tübingen, Germany. < >

Panagiotis Karkanas

Ephoreia of Paleoanthropology-Speleology of Southern Greece Ardittou 34b 11636 Athens, Greece. <>


This paper examines the history and disciplinary trajectory of geoarchaeology in Greece. Comprising one of the most complex and tectonically active geological settings and entailing one of the richest and most important archaeological records in Europe, Greece was among the first places where the discipline of geoarchaeology was originally applied. The peninsular and maritime character of the country, the extensive coastlines and the pronounced sea-level oscillations occurring in the Quaternary explains why geoarchaeological approaches were at first employed on famous archaeological sites situated along or near the coast. Geoarchaeology in Greece never lost its ‘coastal focus’, but it did enter a second phase during the 1980’s, when there is a shift of interest towards the study of human-environment interactions. This phase initiates a long-lasting debate over landscape instability and the anthropogenic versus climatic impact as major drivers of alluviation and soil erosion during the Holocene. The third stage in the history of the discipline is marked with a dual emphasis on both broad, landscape-scale perspectives and site-specific, micro-scale applications. Particularly during the last decade, geoarchaeological investigations in Greece have been characterized by pioneering studies of site formation processes, archaeological sediments and the micro-stratigraphic context.

Keywords: Geoarchaeology, Greece, site formation processes, micromorphology, paleogeography, human-environment interactions,