Harran was a major ancient city in Upper Mesopotamia whose site is near the modern village of Altınbaşak, Turkey, 24 miles southeast of Şanlıurfa. The city was the chief home of the Mesopotamian moon-god Sin, under the Babylonians and even into Roman times.
In its prime Harran was a major Assyrian city which controlled the point where the road from Damascus joins the highway between Nineveh and Carchemish. This location gave Harran strategic value from an early date.
Harran was first inhabited in the Early Bronze Age (3rd millennium BC). The earliest records of Harran come from the Ebla tablets (late 3rd millennium BC). The city was known as Harrānu in the Assyrian period; Carrhae under the Roman and Byzantine empires; Hellenopolis in the Early Christian period; and Harrān in the Islamic period.
The Battle of Carrhae was fought in 53 BC between the Parthian Empire and the Roman Republic near the town of Carrhae (Harran). The Parthian Spahbod (“General”) Surena decisively defeated a superior Roman invasion force under the command of Marcus Licinius Crassus. It is commonly seen as one of the earliest and most important battles between the Roman and Parthian empires and one of the most crushing defeats in Roman history.
During the late 8th and 9th century AD Harran was a center for translating works of astronomy, philosophy, natural sciences and medicine from Greek to Syriac by Assyrians and then to Arabic, bringing the knowledge of the classical world to the emerging Arabic-speaking civilization in the south.