View of the Citadel of Aleppo (northern Syria), built on top of a tell occupied since at least the third millennium BC
In archaeology, a tell, or tel (derived from Arabic: تَل, tall or Hebrew: תל tell, 'hill' or 'mound' ), is an artificial mound formed from the accumulated refuse of generations of people living on the same site for hundreds or thousands of years. A classic tell looks like a low, truncated cone with sloping sides and can be up to 30 metres high.
View of an excavation area at Tell Barri (northeastern Syria). Note the person standing in the middle for scale.
A tell is an artificial hill created by many generations of people living and rebuilding on the same spot. Over time, the level rises, forming a mound. The single biggest contributor to the mass of a tell are mud bricks, which disintegrate rapidly. Excavating a tell can reveal buried structures such as government or military buildings, religious shrines, and homes, located at different depths depending on their date of use. They often overlap horizontally, vertically, or both. Archaeologists excavate tell sites to interpret architecture, purpose, and date of occupation.
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