Warfare > Fall of Harran

Fall of Harran


The Fall of Harran in 609 BCE was the capture of the Assyrian city of Harran by the joint Babylonian and Median invasion of Assyria. This battle was only one defeat in a long string of defeats and decline of power that had been occurring since the last of the great kings had power. Following the death of Ashurbanipal the empire of Neo-Assyria had been slowly losing power and territory and many former vassal states were beginning to unite against them.

All of the many years of Assyrian subjugation of the various civilizations of Mesopotamia led to a strategic and diplomatic alliance between the king of the Medes named Cyaxares and the tribal leader of Chaldea and Babylonia named Nabopolassar. First the alliance sieged the city of Arrapha in 615 BCE before moving onto Ashur in 614 BCE. The famous Assyrian capital of Nineveh was destroyed in 612 BCE and the remaining battered Assyrian army was forced to flee to the outer cities of their territory.

During the chaos and street to street fighting of the Battle of Nineveh, there were significant losses on the Assyrian side including the king Sin-shar-ishkun which prompted a general from the royal family named Ashur-uballit II to seize the leadership and attempt to salvage what was left of the Assyrian state. The remnants of the Assyrian army managed to escape to the city of Harran in order to hold off the invaders in their lands. They quickly established Harran as the new capital and managed to fortify the city and bolster its defenses.

The establishment and reemergence of the Assyrian political entity invoked the further wraith of the Babylonians and Medians who proceeded to launch another invasion to wipe them out for good. The city managed to survive the siege between 610 BCE and 609 BCE however, there are no written Assyrian records after 610 BCE and the city was known to have fallen in 609 BCE.


Following this decisive defeat the Assyrians would be forced to retreat once again to the outer city of Carchemish where they would meet up with Egypt under the command of Necho II. After receiving the Assyrian pleas for help the Egyptians mobilized a mercenary army and navy to help assist their ally. After being slightly impeded by the Kingdom of Judah and its leader Josiah at the Battle of Megiddo (609 BCE) the Egyptians pressed forward along the coastal route of the Mediterranean and helped reinforce the Assyrian position for the upcoming Battle of Carchemish.

Babylonian & Median Campaign

Fall of HarranDate609 BCLocationHarranResultMedo-Babylonian victoryBelligerentsBabylonians, MediansAssyriaCommanders and leadersNabopolassar, CyaxaresAshur-uballit IIStrengthUnknownUnknownCasualties and lossesUnknownUnknown


Bertman, Stephen (2005). Handbook to Life in Ancient Mesopotamia. New York: Oxford UP. p. 80.Jump up ^ Grant, R.G. (2005). Battle: A Visual Journey Through 5000 Years of Combat. London: Dorling Kindersley. p. 18.

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