Contents:OverviewBackgroundBirthDeathExamplesPhasesFeatured TelsBiblical RefsEtymologyOther


This page describes the birth and also death the an historical Tel (mound). Many of the major Biblical website were developed as a fortified city, and also their remains have the right to be uncover in the damages of the Tels. Over there are hundreds of sites through the prefix name of “Tel” or “Tell”, many of the old sites, but some (like “Tel-Aviv” or “Tel-Hashomer”) are modern cities or villages.

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In 2005 UNESCO provided the Biblical Tels, together a world Heritage site.


Many the the ancient Biblical website were located in man-made hills, which were fortified and also equipped through water supply, gates, high walls, and other protection measures. The Tel was a commonly a city, and before the Israelites each together city had actually a King. The city contained the palaces and houses that the citizens, as well as their armies.

Around the city to be villages and the houses and farms the the farmers that operated for the city. As soon as there was a risk or battle the population centered in the city and defended themselves behind the walls.

There are hundreds of such Tels in Israel and also the middle east. Your sizes ranged from tiny to large (like Megiddo).

Birth that the Tel:

The original city was a natural hill, i m sorry was situated at a strategic location such as the cross of a river, top top the side of a significant road, or top top a extremely defend-able location. Then, the location would have been reinforced by increasing the slopes the the hill by accumulating earth on top of the hill and building high walls with field-stones or sun dried mud bricks. After a war, the city to be leveled by fire or intentional destruction, and the first level would have been created. After this destruction, a new city was rebuilded on height of this layer.

This cycle would repeat again and again. The Tels space actually made the end of a variety of layers of building and construction that collected over the years, after every layer was grazed or scorched down through the overcoming armies. In ~ a rate of devastation every 100 years or so, plenty of layers have actually been accumulated, and the height of the hill grew from one layer come the next.

The sites were develop over and over again due to the fact that there to be an advantage to proceed to recreation the ruined city in its original location:

Under the damages of the city all the building blocks were available, the hefty blocks were not required to it is in hauled far for lengthy distances,

The water works were available, and also required just a repair.

A new city would certainly require heavy investments, and this to be not feasible financially.

The old city to be usually constructed on the prime locations, for this reason there was no sense in relocating the city.

The walls were developed to last, and were obtainable for the next layer

Most that the homes were do of mud bricks, which disintegrated and could not be reused because that making new bricks. Thus, brand-new mud bricks were supplied to construct the next layer on top.

One that the ideal defense measures was come raise the height of the city as lot as possible, using a large amount of floor to raise the city. The previously layers included to the height and were thus useful in the following layers.

The owners of the damaged houses could insurance claim their property, and also return to their house and also rebuild it.

Some Tels got to 20-30 layers end the 25 century of history. The archaeologists can later on slice them, study the continues to be along the cut wall surface (examining the stones, ceramics, bones and also coins), and also read them choose a history book.

Death the the Tels:

Eventually, the Tels to be abandoned because they were limited in size and the populace increased in sizes. The water supply could not assistance a larger city, and the genuine estate was limited. They typically relocated to a site adjacent and constructed the new city top top a larger site, generally on the higher hills about the initial city. This happened approximately the third century BC in the Hellenistic period after the floor of Israel to be reclaimed by the return exiles. The majority of the Tels lasted from the 20-12th century BC till the 5th-3rd century BC.

Some Tels passed away earlier, such together after the deadly Assyrian attack in 732 BC. An instance of one earlier demise is Tel Lachish.

After the old Tels phased out, they continued to be used as second sites, used as watch towers or fortresses for little military units due to their strategic location, heights and also fortification. Because that example, the Crusaders reused Tel Yokneam or Beit-Oren.

Examples of Tels:

Here room some examples of Tels, every within 6 kilometres distance and also along the main North-South road. All 3 were conquered in 1468 BC through Egyptian Pharaoh Thutmose III as part of his intrusion right into Canaan.

(a) Tel Maamer (Biblical Geva) is located near mount Carmel, on the financial institutions of the Kishon river. It has an upper city (on the left side) and also a lower city (right side).


(b) Tel Kassis, near Yokneam, may be Biblical Khelkat. The Kishon flow flows follow me the Tel, and detailed it v water supply and a wet moat, which was component of that is defense line. Above the creek are the steep walls, component of the glacis that was constructed in stimulate to make it difficult for the attackers to rise up and also into the city, and was the 2nd line that defense.


(c) Tel Beit Shean

Tel Beit She’an (Beth Shean) to be a major Biblical city, situated in the center of crossroads in between the Jordan valley and the Jezreel (Yizreel) valley. The old city flourished from the third millennium BC until the Hellenistic duration in the third century BC.

1 Samuel 31 6-13: “So Saul died, and his 3 sons,…and lock fastened his body to the wall of Bethshan”.



Phases the a Tel:

The following animation shows a typical procedure of the building and construction of a typical Tel. (to begin from the beginning, struggle F5 – refresh)


Sample the Tels that room featured in

Biblical References:

The indigenous “Tel” is written 6 time in the Hebrew Bible, and also is translated in KJV as “heap”.

(a) Deuteronomy 13:16

This text explains the Tel together a damaged city. The scriptures commanded to burn under cities of evil people, and also turn them into a hill (Tel) that ashes.

“And you shalt gather all the spoil that it right into the midst of the street thereof, and also shalt burn v fire the city, and also all the damn thereof every whit, for the lord thy God: and also it shall be an heap because that ever; that shall not be constructed again.”

(b) Joshua 8:28

Joshua adhered to the scriptures directive, and burnt under the angry city the Ai:

“And Joshua burned Ai, and made it an heap for ever, also a desolation depend this day”.

(c) Ezekiel 3:15

Tel-Aviv is the 2nd largest city in Israel. The is no a Tel, and also only inherited a surname from the Bible. The name shows up in Ezekiel as Tel-Aviv in Hebrew (“TelAbib” in KJV bible), and way “the hill the spring”.

” then I concerned them the the bondage at Telabib, the dwelt by the flow of Chebar, and also I sat where they sat, and remained there astonished amongst them seven days”.

(d) Ezra 2:59 and Nehemia 7:61

Both books have the very same text. The Hebrew text reads “Tel Melach” i m sorry is the hill of the salt.

“And these to be they which went increase from Telmelah, Telharsa, Cherub, Addan, and also Immer: yet they could not shew their father’s house, and also their seed, even if it is they were of Israel:”

(e) Jeremiah 49:2

Jeremiah provides a prophecy that Rabat Amon (today, resources of Jordan) will be perished:

“Therefore, behold, the job come, saith the LORD, that ns will cause an alarm of war to it is in heard in Rabbah that the Ammonites; and also it shall be a desolate heap, and her daughters shall be melted with fire: climate shall Israel be heir unto them that were his heirs, saith the LORD”.

Etymology (behind the name):

The indigenous “Tel” (or “Tell”) is a root name, and also has plenty of derivatives in Hebrew:

Telula – means steep (since the Tels are steep) or little Tel.

Telulit – another word for tiny Tel.

See more: How Many Blank Tiles In Words With Friends, What Are The Letters In Words With Friends

Telon – little Tel

Tell – has the same an interpretation in Arabic.

Other References:

The Source” – James Michener wrote great novel on the story of a Tel. Behind every layer he placed a story that continued through they years and also spanned throughout the background of Israel. Extremely Recommended! – walk with us v the sites of the holy Land