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Abstract

In this paper we review the main, long- and short-term geological and geotectonic processes that have controlled the development of Pleistocene landscapes in the Aegean region above and below the fluctuating sea level. We discuss the potential for further research on reconstruction of submerged landscapes of the continental shelf and beyond with the aim of addressing questions concerning Palaeolithic settlement. The geological, tectonic, morphological and hydrogeological background provides information for the assessment of the natural resources available to hominins. Along with the palaeogeographical evolution of the shallow coastal and shelf areas, they are examined in parallel with the terrestrial archaeological record in order to open windows to future work in a region that has remained marginal to human origins research. On the basis of the multi-variable tectonic evolution and geomorphological configuration of the coastal and shelf areas, we propose to divide the Aegean region into nine geographical units, each with its own geotectonic and morphological history and traits. These units can be further grouped to provide larger neighbouring and culturally meaningful regions, suitable for archaeological analysis, or subdivided to provide smaller target areas in which to work.

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