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- Once Upon Time Harran
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Write: Hasan Mert Kaya, Photo:Mustafa Yılmaz
Once Upon Time Harran
Once Upon Time Harran
So all fairy tales begin. And nothing could be more apt when it comes to Harran.
Harran, a place of wisdom where time stands still... The subsoil of this desert-yellow earth is even richer than what is on the surface in this ancient city, for splendor at Harran goes back centuries. But vestiges of the past, hints of grandeur whispered by the stone, persist even today. History in Mesopotamia began and was written at Harran, the lands that produced Mesopotamia’s learned men and bequeathed them to humanity. While hundreds of places around the world were groping their way in the darkness of ignorance, Harran was a beacon of wisdom enlightening mankind.
The first university
The world’s first university was founded and generated knowledge at Harran. The millennia-old tower that still stands proudly among the extant remains of this lofty civilization that have withstood time’s depredations was where astronomical observations were made at chemistry. Still another prominent scholar that Harran produced is Thabit ibn Qurra.
the university, a place of learned men who roamed the streets of heaven in pursuit of the stars shining in the darkness of night. Philosophy, logic, astronomy, geometry, law and medicine were the fundamental disciplines developed by Harran’s high-powered scholars. And the luminous relics of this city of learning stand today as a turning point in the history of mankind, a place where you can go and pay your respects on the vast, seemingly endless Harran Plain.
land of the great wise men
Becoming a center of learning in antiquity, Harran preserved its position in medieval times as well. Arab settlers who came to the region during the Islamic conquests rebuilt Harran. Undergoing rapid development under the Umayyads especially, Harran filled with palaces and became the administrative capital following Damascus. The city’s growth as a commercial, political and economic center paved the way to significant developments in the history of science as well. Besides being a focal point of the positive sciences, the city was also one of the Middle East’s leading centers for the Arabic language and grammar. The celebrated woman poet Rabiatü’l Adeviyye (Ümmü’l-Hayr), and learned men like Al-Battani, Jâbir ibn Hayyân and Thabit ibn Qurra, all of whom grew up in Harran, are a few of the figures to whom modern science owes so much.
Among the learned men produced at Harran, Al-Battani s one of the greatest names in the history of astronomy. Believing that the aim of all learning was to know Allah, Al-Battani said, “The stars we see, the earth on which we live and the motions of the universe are clear proof of the existence and oneness of the Great Creator.” The name of Al-Battani, the first Muslim learned man whose works were translated into Latin, has always been remembered with respect by European scholars and, as a token of that respect, was given to one of the craters on the Moon. This is why the name Albategnius appears on old Moon maps. Another important Harran scholar is Jâbir bin Hayyân, regarded as the father of modern
The conical houses that are an integral part of Harran still survive as one of the treasures of this region’s most spectacular architecture. Built to accommodate the local climate, these houses are under protection by the Turkish government today. With its original treasures and contributions to civilization, Harran awaits visitors as one of Turkey’s richest cultural regions.
A center of culture and civilization for thousands of years, Harran today is rising again from its own ashes thanks to irrigation projects being developed in the region. Producing the world’s highest quality cotton, the fecundity of the fertile Harran Plain keeps a smile on the faces of the local people. Another center of attraction that produces knowledge in this land of the wise, Harran University is growing by the day. And the local handicrafts, which were on the verge of being lost, are being revived thanks to initiatives by the government as well as non-governmental organizations.
Harran mathematician and astronomer, Al-Battani
He was the first to replace the Greek chord with the sine in geometry.
He measured the apparent circumferences of the Sun and Moon.
He developed a trigonometric method for calculating the values of all the angles from zero to ninety degrees.
He developed a convenient and accurate method for calculating the degree of a lunar eclipse.