Investigators have studied past environmental change in the Eastern Mediterranean region from a number of perspectives. While climate reconstructions and palynological research have focused on forces that drive the geomorphologic system, many researchers have attempted to use sediment archive studies to identify periods of change in sediment dynamics. Due to the large variability in environmental parameters and the variety of landscapes present in the Eastern Mediterranean region, research has focused on sediment archives ranging from small colluvial sites to deltas of large rivers on the Mediterranean coast.
As the cultural record for the region is extremely rich, the main goal of palaeo-environmental research in the Eastern Mediterranean has been to identify the relative importance of human impact on the landscape. Nevertheless, sediment archives have significant limitations: chronological control for many palaeo-environmental records is highly uncertain, and rates of landscape change are oftentimes difficult to assess. Most palaeo-environmental research has been conducted on or near archeological sites, where direct human impact may obscure the indirect impact on sediment dynamics through land-use changes. Quantification and modeling of sediment dynamics in the Eastern Mediterranean environment offer one solution. When erosion and sediment transport rate analyses are incorporated, periods of relatively important change can be identified. Using multiple approaches the relative importance of the main driving forces, climate and land use, become distinguishable. Since field-based data from the actual sediment archives remain vital, an overview of numerous studies in the Eastern Mediterranean is provided in order to draw a general picture for different time periods and the relative scale of regional landscape development during the Holocene. A comparison of sediment dynamics with the record of driving forces indicates that while climate was the main driver of the geomorphic system during the early Holocene, at some point human impact became widespread and began to dictate sediment dynamics to a large extent. From the Byzantine Period onward soil properties seem to play an increasingly important role, as the hillslope soil reservoir in the Eastern Mediterranean was progressively depleted during the late Holocene.