Carrhae (Akkadian Harran, Biblical Haran, mod. Harran, SE Turkey), a city of north Mesopotamia about 40 km. (25 mi.) south-west of Edessa, an ancient cult centre of the moon-god Sin. The temple of Sin is first mentioned in a tablet from Mari of about 1800 bce. It was an important provincial capital, trading-city and fortress in the Assyrian empire (the last Assyrian king resided there, 612–605(?) bce). The Neo-Babylonian king Nabonidus (556–539) rebuilt the temple of Sin. A Macedonian military colony under Seleucid rule, it preserved its name in the Hellenized form ‘Carrhae’ (see colonization, hellenistic). It became part of an independent kingdom Osroëne (132 bce), often under Parthian suzerainty. The Roman general M. Licinius Crassus (1) was defeated by the Parthians near Carrhae in 53 bce. Carrhae was included in the territory annexed as a result of the eastern wars of M. Aurelius’ co-emperor L. Verus and his subordinate general Avidius Cassius (162–6 ce) and issued coins as a Roman city until the reign of Gordian III. Septimus Severus gave it colonial status (195 ce) (see colonization, roman) and additional titles attest further honours from Caracalla, who was visiting the temple of Sin in 217 when he was assassinated. It was a fortress city, changing hands more than once during the centuries of frontier warfare between Rome and Byzantium and Sassanid Persia. Julianus Apostata sacrificed to Sin in 363. At the time of its final capture by the Arabs in 639 the city was inhabited jointly by Christians and pagan Sabians.
The town walls survive, with principal gateways; but most visible remains, except a Christian basilica, are Islamic.