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Harran (Arabic: حران) is a village in the as-Suwayda Governorate in southwestern Syria. It is situated in the southern Lajah plateau, northwest of the city of as-Suwayda. Harran had a population of 1,523 in the 2004 census.
During the early Byzantine era, Harran's Arabic-speaking inhabitants were pagans, but by the late 6th century, the population had become Christian. A bilingual Greek and Arabic inscription found in the village is among the earliest known appearances of written Arabic in Syria. In the early Ottoman era (16th century), Harran was a grain-producing Muslim hamlet. It was later abandoned, and then in the mid-19th century it was settled by Druze, who still inhabit the village.
Harran was inhabited during the Byzantine era in Syria, as attested by an inscription found in the village dedicated to the goddess Athena dating from 212–375 CE. A public hostel was built by four of the village's administrators in 397/98. It is unlikely that a majority of the Arabic-speaking inhabitants of Harran were Christians at that time.
By the late 6th century, Harran's inhabitants were Christians and the village was part of the Ghassanid tribal kingdom, a vassal of the Byzantines. A bilingual Arabic and Greek inscription was found in Harran dating from 568/69 CE. The inscription describes a martyrium built by an Arab phylarch (equivalent to sheikh, chieftain) named Sharahil ibn Zalim. Sharahil may have been associated with the Ghassanids, since his name is not found in records mentioning the tribe.
The inscription of Harran, along with two other Arabic inscriptions found in Zabad near Aleppo and Jabal Usays mountain east of Damascus depict the earliest known appearance of Arabic in Syria. The development of written Arabic in Syria at this time was likely to facilitate the spread of Christianity among Arab tribesmen living in the region's desert fringes. The Harran inscription read:
I, Sharahil, son of Zalim, have built this martyrium in the year 463 (568 CE).
In 1596 Harran appeared in the Ottoman tax registers as part of the nahiya (subdistrict) of Bani Abdullah in the Sanjak Hauran. It had an entirely Muslim population consisting of four households. They paid a fixed tax-rate of 40% on agricultural products, including wheat, barley, summer crops, goats and beehives, in addition to occasional revenues; the taxes totaled 3,350 akçe.
- General Census of Population and Housing 2004[permanent dead link]. Syria Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS). Al-Suwayda Governorate. (in Arabic)
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