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Tell
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Tell

A tell (Arabic, or tel תל, Hebrew) is an archaeological site in the form of an earthen mound, resulting from the accumulation and subsequent erosion of material (mostly mudbrick or other architecture containing a high proportion of stone or loam as well as to a minor extent domestic refuse) deposited by human occupation over long periods of time.

The distribution of this phenomenon spans from the Indus valley in the east to southeastern Europe in the west.

The word is commonly used as a general term in archaeology, particularly Middle-Eastern archaeology. It is also sometimes used in a toponym, that is, as part of a town or city name, the best known example being the city of Tel Aviv ("Hill of Spring", Hebrew). Often a modern city is located next to an ancient mound with a similar tell name, for example the city of Arad, Israel, is a few kilometers (miles) away from an ancient mound called Tel Arad.

Occasionally, the word "tell" can be incorrectly applied to a site whose form does not warrant the designation - the site of Amarna in Middle Egypt, frequently misnamed "Tell el-Amarna", is the best example of such an error.

The Turkish word for Tell is 'hyk', as in Çatalhöyük;, also the Persian 'tepe' is common in Turkey. Toponymes indicating settlement mounds in the Balkans are 'magoula' or 'toumba' (due to the fact that the phenomenon is easily confused with burials mounds) in Greece and Macedonia, 'mogila' in Bulgaria or 'magura' in Romania.


Tell is an English verb meaning "to speak to" or "to talk to"; also "to give an order". For more information on what that is, see talking.

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