In the southeast of Turkey, about 28 miles south of Sanliurfa (once called Edessa), lies the city of Harran. The ancient city of Harran was located on the west bank of the Balikh River, a tributary of the Euphrates, in Northern Mesopotamia. The river has long since dried up, although it still has water semiannually in Syria. Harran’s location was a major crossroad for primary trade routes from Mesopotamia to the west and the northwest. The city was an important trade center in ancient times. It appears to be named after its geographic function. Harran is derived from the Sumerian or Akkadian harranu which means road or caravan. The Bible refers to Harran as Paddan-aram which is Aramean for highway. The city of Harran was believed to have been founded around 2000 BCE as a merchant outpost of Ur. The Bible records that Abraham stayed in Harran after leaving Ur, which some claim was actually Edessa (modern Sanliurfa). Beginning about 2000 BCE, Harran’s name was mentioned in a variety of historical accounts as one of the most prominent cities of Northern Mesopotamia. However, very scarce information regarding the earliest period of its history has survived. A number of excavations have revealed early Bronze Age materials that support the existence of Harran during this period. The name of Harran first begins to be mentioned in the Mari Archives (around 1760 BCE). Some documents detail practices such as adoption and inheritance similar to those found in the Genesis accounts. Reports in the royal letters from the city of Mari on the middle Euphrates indicate that the area around the Balikh river was occupied in the 19th century BCE by semi-nomadic tribes, who were especially active in the region near Harran. According to the letter correspondence between the Assyrian King Shamsi-Adad I (1812-1797 BCE) and his son Ishme-Adad, Harran was also once a vassal kingdom of Assyria, the farthest outreach of the Assyrian Empire.
This cuneiform map of the Babylonian world is an archeological treasure on a par with the Rosetta Stone and the code of Hammurabi. The Babylonian World Map, also known as Imago Mundi is usually dated to the 6th century BCE and is the one of the oldest known world maps and certainly the most famous. We saw this when we were at the British Museum for the Olympics and I thought I would do some posts on famous ancient maps. An inscription on the Babylonian World Map indicates that it was a copy of a previous map and the locations featured on the map indicate that the original could not have been created earlier than the 9th century BCE. The back of the tablet is covered with cuneiform mainly describing Seven Islands or regions which are depicted in the form of equal triangles rising beyond the circle of the Earthly Ocean.
If you take a close look at the watch shown above, you will begin to notice some oddities. This is a precision watch with decimal hours and seconds by Robert Robin from 1793. In this system there are 100 seconds in a minute and 100 minutes in an hour. Decimal time is the representation of the time of day using units which are decimally related. This term is often used to refer specifically to French Revolutionary Time.
10 metric hours in a day
In 1788, Claude Boniface Collignon proposed dividing the day into 10 hours or 1000 minutes, each new hour into 100 minutes, each new minute into 1000 seconds, and each new second into 1000 tierces. The distance the sun travels in one new tierce at the equator, which is one-billionth of the circumference of the earth, would be a new unit of length, provisionally called a half-handbreadth, equal to four modern centimeters. Further, the new tierce would be divided into 1000 quatierces, which he called “microscopic points of time”. He also suggested a week of 10 days and dividing the year into 10 “solar months”. The final French Republican Calendar was introduced in 1793 with 30 days in a month and 12 months/ 360 days in a year, using a decimal timescale, adding 5 days of festivities at the end of the year. The Republican Calendar was not a success and lasted only from 1793 until 1805.
Boundary markers for property are a very old concept. They are mentioned in the Bible: Proverbs 22:28 “Do not move an ancient boundary stone set up by your forefathers.” The Residence Act of July 16, 1790, as amended March 3, 1791, authorized President George Washington to select a 100-square-mile site for the national capital on the Potomac River. He selected the site and placed 40 stone markers at one mile intervals, marking the extent of the capital city. The stones are now the oldest federal monuments in the United States.
In the photo above, Hammurabi is depicted standing, receiving his royal insignia from the god Shamash. (Babylonian sun god and god of law and justice) His hand is over his mouth as a sign of prayer. (note the similarity to Moses receiving the Ten Commandments) Hammurabi was the ruler who chiefly established the greatness of Babylon, the world's first metropolis. Many relics of Hammurabi's reign (1795-1750 BC) have been preserved, and today we can study this remarkable King as a wise (supreme) judge in his celebrated code. The small stele (8 feet tall pillar) is in the Louvre, one of the great treasures of the collection. In 1901, Egyptologist Gustave Jéquier, a member of an expedition headed by Jacques de Morgan, found the stele containing the Code of Hammurabi in what is now Kh?zest?n, Iran (ancient Susa, Elam), where it had been taken as plunder by the Elamite king Shutruk-Nahhunte in the 12th century BC. It was clearly meant to be a public monument and it shows some signs of wear although it is in remarkably good condition given its ancient age. The photo below is the first row of text below the carving in the intro picture, the words are separated by lines and read left to right.