Harran, also known as Carrhae, is an archeological site in present day southeastern Turkey, at the point the road from Damascus joins the highway between Nineveh and Carchemish. This location gave Harran strategic value from an early date. It is frequently mentioned in Assyrian inscriptions as early as the time of Tiglath Pileser I, about 1100 BC, under the name Harranu, or "Road".
Harran is also mentioned in the Old Testament as the place where Terah halted after leaving Ur, and apparently the birthplace of Abraham, a town on the stream Jullab, some nine hours' journey from Edessa (present day Sanli Urfa) in Turkey. The Yahwistic writer (Genesis 27:43) makes it the home of Laban and connects it with Isaac and Jacob. But we cannot thus put Haran in Aramnaharaim; the home of the Labanites is rather to be looked for in the very similar word Hauran.
It was the centre of a considerable commerce, trading with Tyre (Ezekiel 27:23), and one of its specialities was the odoriferous gum derived from the strobus (Pliny, N.H. xii. 40). It was here that Crassus in his eastern expedition was attacked and slain by the Parthians (5 BC). Centuries later, the emperor Caracalla was murdered here at the instigation of Macrinus (AD 217). The emperor Galerius was defeated by the Sassanidss nearby in 296.
Haran was the chief home of the moon-god Sin, whose temple was rebuilt by several kings, among them Assur-bani-pal and Nabonidus, and Herodian (iv. 13, 7) mentions the town as possessing in his day a temple of the moon. In the middle ages it is mentioned as having been the seat of a particular pagan sect, that of the Haranite Sabeans, into the period of the Crusades, although it also possessed a bishop over a Christian community. This city retained its importance down to the period of the Arab ascendancy; but by Abulfeda it is mentioned as having before his time fallen into decay. In the late nineteenth century, it was wholly in ruins.
This entry uses text from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.