Tell (archaeology)

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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 architecture) deposited by human occupation over long periods of time.

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 'höyük', as in Çatalhöyük, or 'tepe', in Greek it is called 'Magoula', 'Mogila' in Bulgarian.

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.