Chapter 22 in:
Volume 20 of the series Coastal Research Library
The Aegean Region has remained marginal to research into human origins despite its key position in the multiple movements of animals between Europe and Asia. A possible explanation for this is that the Palaeolithic remains are invisible because they lie beneath the sea, whilst research in the field was hitherto developed on the mainland. In this chapter we make the submerged land, the coastal zones and the islands a unified research focus to examine the main, long-term and short-term geological and geotectonic processes which have controlled the development of Pleistocene landscapes in the Aegean Region above and below the fluctuating sea-level. We integrate evidence on the geology, tectonics, morphology and hydrogeology of the shallow coastal and shelf areas in order to reconstruct the palaeogeography. Given the variable tectonic evolution and geomorphological configuration of the coastal and shelf areas, we divide the Aegean into nine geographical units. Each unit has its own geotectonic and morphological history and offers a frame of reference to assess land-routes and the natural resources available to hominins at different times of the Pleistocene. We link this palaeogeographic reconstruction to the discussion of the early occupation of Europe. This allows the NE Mediterranean to become part of the discussion about hominin dispersals into Europe through a south-eastern route and gives a more complete view of the variations in Palaeolithic settlement.