We know about his vita from the 6th-century "Life of Chariton", written by an anonymous monk, which holds elements supported by modern archaeological excavations.
Chariton was a native of Iconium in the Byzantine province of Lycaonia. Under the reign of Emperor Aurelian (270-275) he was tortured and came close to become a martyr during a persecution against Christians. Released from prison after Aurelian's death, he regretted not having died as a martyr.
Pharan near Jerusalem
After his release in 275, during a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and other holy places, Chariton was abducted by bandits and brought to a cave in the Wadi Qelt(Pharan Valley). Tradition[dubious – discuss] states that his abductors died by drinking wine that was poisoned by a snake. Chariton decided to remain a hermit in the cave after this miraculous death of his abductors. There he built a church and established a monastery, the first one of the lavra type.
After that he moved on to establish a third monastery in Wadi Khureitun, named the Souka and later known as the Old Lavra.
In all three locations his fame let Christians flock to learn from him, disturbing his solitude, which was the reason for him repeatedly moving on. At Souka he eventually relocated to a cave on a cliff near the centre of the lavra, known as the "Hanging Cave of Chariton" and whose remains have been discovered by Israeli archaeologist Yizhar Hirschfeld.
The importance of Chariton lays mainly in the fact that he established by his own example the rules for monastic life in the Judaean desert, in the context of lavra-type monasteries. These rules became the main traits of monastic rule everywhere, based on asceticism and solitude: he lived in silence, only ate certain types of food and only after sundown, performed manual work, spent the night in an alternation of sleep and psalmody, prayed at fixed hours, stayed in his cell, and controlled his thoughts.
According to tradition, he was the one to compile the "Office of the Monastic Tonsure".
Leah Di Segni: The Life of Chariton, in: Ascetic Behavior in Greco-Roman Antiquity: A Sourcebook (Studies in Antiquity and Christianity), Vincent L. Wimbush, Minneapolis 1990, ISBN0-8006-3105-6, p. 393–421.