Friday, July 27, 2012

Turkey 22: Harran

Harran is a city 30 miles south of Urfa in SE Turkey and about 8 miles north of the Syrian border. Harran is said to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited spots on earth.  Earliest records of it date back to 2,300 BCE. Abraham of the old testament is said to have lived here for a time. 

Sadly, not much of the old city is left. Here, we are standing among the ruins of the Grand Mosque.  Built in the 8th century AD, it is the oldest mosque built in the Anatolia region.  It is said that western civilization owes this place a great debt.

Our Turkish guide claimed that it was the first Islamic place of higher learning.  A precursor to a modern university, as it were.

The remains of a pipe fed fountain with what's left of the astronomical observation tower in the background.
During the European dark ages, when the library of Alexandria was last burned, ancient texts in western Europe were systematically destroyed and much of the ancient knowledge was lost.

According to our Turkish guide, many ancient astronomy, philosophy, natural sciences, and medicine texts are only available to us today because they were copied and brought here.

They were originally brought here to be translated from Greek into Arabic.  However, the act of bringing them here ended up saving them for posterity.  

Later, just prior to the renaissance, travelers coming through here were able to reintroduce them back into the west.  Some say these reintroduced texts were responsible for the Italian renaissance, but that discussion is way beyond my pay grade.

Again, we see the intricate detail carved into these building blocks.

After leaving the mosque, we visited what I would call a classic example of "bee hive" houses that abound in this area.

Each "bee-hive" roof creates a domed ceiling inside for one room of the house.  This particular house has been open for tourist visits for years.

Looking up inside one of the roofs.  The principle behind these is simple.  The domed roof creates air flow that makes the hot air rise and exit through the hole in the top, which keeps the house cool in the summer months.

And, they say, it also keeps the dwellings warm in the winter months.  A close up of the mud-brick roof covering.

Inside, again, one can see the domed rooms are connected by arched doorways.  Even though this house is open nearly every day for tourist visits, folks actually live here.

Folks like this little person, who seemed to take all the visitors completely in stride.

This is one of the larger houses of this type that we saw.

Here is a smaller one that I photographed from the bus as we drove out of town. 

Continue on to Post 23: Urfa, by clicking here.


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