Tell Haran is located in the fertile Haran Plain, which is watered by the Balikh River, a major tributary of the Euphrates River. The city walls of Haran were 2.5 miles (4 km) in length and surrounded the tell. There were six gates, but only the western gate, the Aleppo Gate, remains standing.
Homeland of the Patriarchs
After the Lord called Abraham from Ur of the Chaldees, he settled in Haran for many years (Gen 11:31; Acts 7:2-4). Abraham grew prosperous during the time he lived in Haran. When he was 75 years old, the Lord told him to go to the land of Canaan (Gen 12:5). Later, Jacob fled from Esau to Haran, the home of Rebekah’s brother Laban (Gen 27:43; 28:10). Here Jacob would acquire two wives and many children would be born to him.
Worship of Sin
Excavations revealed a large mudbrick building that dates to the end of the 3rd millennium BC, the end of the Early Bronze Age. It is thought this might be the predecessor to the temple of the moon-god Sin. A treaty was enacted in the temple of Sin in the time of Hammurapi (1728–1686 BC), and several Assyrian kings describe rebuilding the temple. The last king of Babylon, Nabonidus (556–539 BC) rebuilt the temple of Sin, and his mother was a priestess in the temple.
Haran was briefly the capital of the Islamic empire in the 8th century AD, but most of the remains at the site today belong to the Islamic town from the 12th and 13th centuries AD. The town consisted of rectangular and square mudbrick houses that had rooms arranged around a paved courtyard. Haran was excavated by Storm Rice in 1951–53, 1956, and 1959 on behalf of London University. Since 1983, excavations have been directed by Nurettin Yardımcı.
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See also Ararat-Urartu, Carchemish, Hattusha, Karatepe, and Nemrut Dag. For historical images illustrating Abraham’s sojourning, see Life in the Holy Land.
Harran (All About Turkey). This page is valuable as a short summary of interesting information.
Harran (Wikipedia). Encyclopedia entry on Haran, giving a historical summary by period and biblical references to the site.
Harran: The 5000-Year-Old Ancient City in Turkey (The Culture Trip). A brief article that touches on the modern inhabitants of Harran. It also has some nice photos of the famous beehive homes.
Harran: Ancient Crossroads City of Mesopotamia (Electrum Magazine). This travel article includes some interesting cultural details.
Harran (Turkish Archaeological News). A detailed description of the site with many photos.
Harran pictures – Turkey (Dick Osseman). Gallery of photographs of Harran.