The Palaeolithic era corresponds to the geological period of the Pleistocene or the Ice Age and covers the period from ca. 2 million BP to 12,000 BP. During this long period significant geomorphological and climatic changes were noted in the modern Greek-Aegean area which were definitive for the fauna and flora as well as the survival of the Palaeolithic man in this region.

The earliest indication of human presence in Greece is the human skull found at Petralona in Chalkidiki which belongs to the anthropological type Homo sapiens praesapiens. The known anthropological and archaeological finds so far allow the division of the Palaeolithic in the Aegean area into Lower (350,000-100,000), Middle (100,000-35,000 ) and Upper Palaeolithic (35,000-11,000 BP).

Human habitation has been traced to caves, rockshelters and open sites. There are to date few sites of the Lower Palaeolithic whereas there is more evidence of the Middle and Upper Palaeolithic. This is partly due to the intense tectonic activity in the Greek area and the rise and fall of the Aegean which destroyed every trace of habitation from some geographical regions.

Palaeolithic finds from Greece were first reported in 1867 whereas the first organized research on Palaeolithic sites were conducted between 1927-31 by the Austrian Markovits. The first excavation of a Palaeolithic site took place in 1942 at Seidi Cave in Boeotia by the German Stampfuss. More systematic research, however, in Greece was conducted during the 60's in Epirus, Macedonia, Thessaly and the Peloponnese by English, American and German research groups. These missions drew the first map marking Palaeolithic sites in Greece. Since 1980, this map has been constantly up-dated with new sites unearthed after further surveys and excavations conducted by the Ephorate of Palaeoanthropology-Speleology of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture.

On the adjacent map the most important sites regarding the study of the Palaeolithic in Greece are marked in red. It is worth mentioning the Cave Theopetra in Thessaly and the Franchthi Cave in Hermion which were inhabited almost continuously throughout the Palaeolithic and the Mesolithic Period.