Settlements, in a broad spectrum of types, from the simplest, smallest and most short-lived settlements to complex and long-lasting ones, are the basis of the material culture of humans, both in prehistory and through the historical periods. For the science of archaeology, settlements offer an exceptional wealth of crucial information without which any considerations about individuals and society in the past would be impossible. Settlements should, therefore, be observed as the material basis for a complex social evolution: our views of the political-military, economic and religious characters of society in the past are based on settlement analyses. A number of problems from the sphere of settlement archaeology often transcend the simple material aspect, which can be considered as purely archaeological information provided by concrete archaeological finds, lying more in the sphere of, for instance, anthropology and sociology. Therefore, to provide an answer to these questions poses a great challenge for archaeology, and the only solution is by employing as wide an interdisciplinary approach as possible to the research of settlements.
This research area is dedicated to the dynamics of the entire life cycle of a settlement; from the moment of selecting a position where a settlement will be founded and, generally, seasonal or permanent use and exploitation of landscape and resources from the environs of the settlement (farming potential, flora and fauna, raw materials, waters, climate), through the development, spread and stagnation cycle, to abandonment and disappearance of the settlement. An important element in the approach to this research area is observation of the results of the process of human influence on the landscape in the past through the prism of the settlement (palaeoenvironment) and the potential use and interpolation of the research results in contemporary issues: this particularly applies to the creation of guidelines in settlement policy (construction of roads, major infrastructures, new settlements etc.), the maintenance of inhabited areas, water management etc.
The spatial distribution of the settlement, the dynamics, patterns and models of settlement, the mapping and network of settlements, and understanding the processes leading to these patterns and models are some of the approaches to the consideration of settlements and habitation of one or more regions during single or multiple phases of development in the past; settlements of a lower or higher order and the core-periphery relationship; multicultural and multiethnic zones as areas of interaction in which various aspects of identity are affirmed, transferred or created. Areas, competition, coexistence and conflicts between settlements, communication within and between settlements - these are some of the topics that archaeology wishes to observe and comprehend in this macro-context.
On the other hand, within this research area we shall also study the interior structure and infrastructure, as well as the inner life of settlements from the micro-level, the level of the archaeology of individual persons, through archaeology of the household or family, to the level of clan and tribe. Here, settlement types are identified and analysed, from temporary and occasional pastoral, hunting or reconnaissance camps, through farmsteads and hamlets, to long-term, usually more complex, proto-urban and urban settlements.
In the framework of the research area, the relationship settlement/concrete archaeological information is important in the context of analysing the production and subsequently also the distribution of goods within settlements, while the reconstruction of technology, the construction and use of building materials in the broad temporal span from prehistory to the Modern period, alongside urbanism, experimental archaeology and an interdisciplinary approach, as well as digital reconstructions of settlements and life in the past, offer excellent opportunities in the dissemination of knowledge and the popularization of archaeology.