Research on the cities of the Classical Greek world has traditionally focused on mapping the organisation of urban space and studying major civic or religious buildings. More recently, newer techniques such as field survey and geophysical survey have facilitated exploration of the extent and character of larger areas within urban settlements, raising questions about economic processes. At the same time, detailed analysis of residential buildings has also supported a change of emphasis towards understanding some of the functional and social aspects of the built environment as well as purely formal ones. This article argues for the advantages of analysing Greek cities using a multidisciplinary, multi-scalar framework which encompasses all of these various approaches and adds to them other analytical techniques (particularly micro-archaeology). We suggest that this strategy can lead towards a more holistic view of a city, not only as a physical place, but also as a dynamic community, revealing its origins, development and patterns of social and economic activity. Our argument is made with reference to the research design, methodology and results of the first three seasons of fieldwork at the city of Olynthos, carried out by the Olynthos Project.