The importance of an archaeological site is determined by its centrality, a measure of the interaction at the site. Interactions are assessed by different central functions that are important on different spatial scales. With this integrated approach, applying the knowledge of geography, prehistoric archaeology and classical archaeology, the surroundings of present-day Bergama and Selçuk in Western Anatolia are analysed with regard to their centrality. The diachronic approach shows the different developments of both areas throughout time, indicating the importance of different environmental and social factors that create the level of centrality. Two kinds of centrality can be distinguished: (1) a natural centrality that is mainly based on the location of a site in relation to its local hinterland as well as supra-regional landscape characteristics and (2) a politically controlled centrality that is caused by human efforts to assemble central functions. While in the second case deterioration starts when the required effort can no longer be afforded, deterioration in the first type of centrality is caused by the natural landscape dynamics. This interdisciplinary, diachronic analysis allows a holistic assessment of centrality. Furthermore it shows that (1) local, natural or social factors alone are not able to give a full and sufficient explanation of the differences in a location’s centrality as well as (2) the evident need for integrated research frameworks in the analysis of human–environmental relationships throughout time.