By Sharon St Joan
In his book, Gobekli Tepe, Genesis of the Gods, Andrew Collins begins with an account of the nearby ancient city of Harran. Both sites are in southeast Turkey, just north of Syria, within a few miles of each other.
Mongol hoards leveled Harran in 1271. It had existed since Mesopotamian times, and was known to the Romans as Carrhae.
The Great Mosque of Harran had been built during the early Islamic period on top of a pagan temple where the Mesopotamian moon god, Sin, was worshipped. Beside the now vanished mosque stands a 110 foot tower, which, it is believed, was used for astronomical observations. After the Moslem conquest, the people of Harran converted to Islam. It was lot safer to do that, but it is believed that they originally belonged to another faith, Sabaeanism. They worshipped the sun, the moon, and the planets.
Many ancient peoples, perhaps nearly all, also worshipped the sun, the moon, and planets. Today, icons of the nine planets can be seen in Hindu temples. Arranged in three rows of three each, they are the sun, the moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, with Rahu and Kethu, the two nodes of the moon.
The moon god Sin was worshipped primarily in two centers in Mesopotamia – in Ur in the south and in Harran in the north. In the Sumerian language, the crescent moon was called Sakar. Sin was revered as “the father of the Gods,” “the creator of all things,” and the “lord of wisdom.” He rode on a winged bull.
Harran also appears in the Bible, and is the city where Abraham stayed with his family before setting off for Canaan. Harran has been around for a long time.
According to medieval sources, Abraham, while in Harran, set about trying to convert the Harranites to monotheism. Some, who were converted, traveled with him to Canaan, while others stayed behind, remaining true to the faith they believed had been handed down to them from Seth, Idris (Enoch), and Noah.
Abraham is regarded as the father of both Arabic and Jewish peoples. All around Harran, even today, people tell stories related to the Book of Genesis. In the mountains to the east of Harran, the peak Cudi Dag is believed to be where Noah landed the ark as the flood waters receded. Seth, the son of Adam and Eve, is said to have lived in the nearby Taurus Mountains, and the word Taurus, of course, means bull. The Tigris and the Euphrates Rivers have their sources in this area.
Archeologists have found that Harran has been inhabited since around 6,000 BCE, and six miles away, Tell Idris (Idris means Enoch) is 2,000 years older, going back to 10,000 years ago. Enoch was the great-grandfather of Noah. In his apocryphal book, Enoch first mentions the Watchers, a kind of angel.
Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and the northwest corner of Iran are all right there, near the upper regions of the Tigris and Euphrates. In Shanidar, in northern Iraq, are found the oldest bones of domesticated sheep, dating back to between 11,000 and 9,000 BCE.
As early as 8,000 BCE, hard stone drills were being used to fashion beautiful necklaces. Mirrors made of black obsidian have been found in Catal Hoyuk.
Harran and this whole region were a pivotal point at the beginnings of history.
From the top of a mound in Harran, gazing at the northern horizon, one spots a low range of mountains. In these mountains lies the amazing, unbelievably ancient site, Gobekli Tepe. It is the oldest recognized monumental architecture in the world. Its great, massive, carved stone columns arranged in circles go back to 9,500 BCE., built at the end of the last Ice Age. It’s T-shaped columns are gracefully carved with many animals. Discovered when a farmer accidentally stumbled upon the site, it first came to light in 1963, but the first excavation did not begin until its re-discovery by a German archaeologist, Klaus Schmidt, in 1994.
Gobekli Tepe, Genesis of the Gods, by Andrew Collins is available from Amazon. Click here.
Second photo: William Henry Goodyear / Brooklyn Museum / Wikimedia Commons / “The author died in 1923, so this work is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author’s life plus 80 years or less.” / Assyria. Head of winged bull, 9th century B.C.
© Sharon St Joan, 2016