Ben Witherington Hailing from Harran

Harran Astrological Tower Ben Witherington was in Turkey last week and offers some pictures and commentary from the town of Harran. Modern-day Harran is the site of the Biblical Haran where Abraham and his family settled before moving to Canaan. (“Together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Haran, they settled there.” – Genesis 11:31.) This is a picture of an ancient astrological tower located in the ruins of Harran.

From this very tower in the second century B.C. the distance between the earth and moon was correctly calculated. Ancient astrologers were not tawdry palm readers– they were mathematicians scanning the heavenly realms and making calculations. Think of the wise men in Matthew’s Gospel. For someone on a spiritual journey, coming to Harran was like finding the ultimate ancient GPS device– you fell right into the lap of the greatest stargazers and mystics available. It is no surprise then that Gen. 12.1-3 depicts Abram himself as receiving a revelation in this very place to move on to Canaan. As a crossroads town, Harran was an important watch and signal post as well, and they sent messages by means of trained birds to the next caravanserai– trained birds like small hawks and carrier pigeons, just like the ones still nesting in the tower today. Imagine my surprise when I huffed and puffed up the tower only to find such birds still nesting there. Also in the center of the ruins was a huge reflection pool, also used for stargazing as in the movie ‘The Nativity’.

I thought the reflecting pool in The Nativity Story was awesome, so it is very cool to know these things actually existed. You can visit Ben’s site for more background information and more pictures from his trip.


  1. Ray Senior says:


    Great stuff. The ancients, especially the Greeks and Egyptians were way ahead of Europe and the medieval church re astronomy because they were unwilling to expand their theological concepts of the universe. Ben Witherington is a great asset to conservative Christianity and I enjoy his articles in the Biblical Archaeology journal.

  2. Ray Fowler says:

    I also appreciate Ben Witherington’s work. He has a great blog, too, over at Well worth checking out on a regular basis.

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