The Neothermal Dalmatia Project is an Anglo-Yugoslav collaborative project whose aims are to define and explain changes in physical environment, settlement pattern and social structure in north Dalmatia over the last 12 millennia. The Project's fieldwork included archaeological field survey, analytical survey, trial excavation of Neolithic, Copper Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman sites, soil and land use mapping, ethnographic survey of modern villages and hamlets and palaeoenvironmental reconstructions (pollen, sediments, sea-level change, etc.). Within the long-term constraints of a limestone-dominated study region, the short-term events and medium-term agrarian and demographic cycles of the Dalmatian social groups have been studied in an inter-disciplinary manner. In this article, an attempt is made to examine the environmental and archaeological data within the frameworks of four explanatory models: the Land Use Capability (LUC) Model, the Cyclic Intensification–Deintensification (CID) Model, the Communal Ownership of Property (COP) Model and the Arenas of Social Power (ASP) Model. In the LUC model, reconstructions of past land use capabilities are used to derive postdictions of the most likely settlement patterns for successive periods (Neolithic–Roman); a high degree of postdictive success is met. In the CID model, Bintliff's model of cyclic variations in agricultural intensification and private land-holding is refined and tested against survey and excavation data. In the COP model, Fleming's model of communal land ownership is tested against similar data, with contrasting results. Finally, the ASP model is used to explain the expanded range of arenas of social power which develops from a place-based worldview in the early farming period. The conjoint use of these four explanatory models, which operate at different scales of duration, provides a broader basis for understanding changes in the prehistory of north Dalmatia in the Neothermal period than had previously been constructed.