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[too-myuh-luh s, tyoo-] /ˈtu myə ləs, ˈtyu-/
noun, plural tumuluses, tumuli
[too-myuh-lahy, tyoo-] /ˈtu myəˌlaɪ, ˈtyu-/ (Show IPA)
Archaeology. an artificial mound, especially over a grave; barrow.
Geology. a domelike swelling or mound formed in congealed lava.
1680-90; < Latin: mound, swelling, equivalent to tum(ēre) to swell + -ulus -ule Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for tumulus
  • In the centre was a hillock or tumulus, surmounted by a scorched hawthorn.
  • The pressure uplifts the crust at some weak point to form a tumulus.
  • tumulus and vault facilities are now typically used at these humid sites.
British Dictionary definitions for tumulus


noun (pl) -li (-liː)
(archaeol) (no longer in technical usage) another word for barrow2
Word Origin
C17: from Latin: a hillock, from tumēre to swell up
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for tumulus

ancient burial mound, 1680s, from Latin tumulus "hillock," from tumere "to swell" (see thigh).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for tumulus

in England, ancient burial place covered with a large mound of earth. In Scotland, Ireland, and Wales the equivalent term is cairn. Barrows were constructed in England from Neolithic (c. 4000 BC) until late pre-Christian (c. AD 600) times. Barrows of the Neolithic Period were long and contained the various members of a family or clan, while those of the Early Bronze Age (c. 1900 BC) were round in shape and were used to bury a single important individual, perhaps a chief or clan leader. The bodies were placed in stone or wooden vaults, over which large mounds of soil were heaped. Both types of barrows continued to be used in England until the advent of Christianity. Their sites are most common in the county of Wiltshire.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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