An Afrighid drachm

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Parthicus, Nov 13, 2021.

  1. Parthicus

    Parthicus Well-Known Member

    Afrighids. AR drachm (1.73 g). No mint or date. Shah Askaswar II(?) aka Azkajwar-Abdallah, with vizier Dhu'l-Ri'asatayn (c.812-821 AD). Obverse: Bust of king in distinctive Khwarazmian style. Reverse: Armed horseman right, trace of Sogdian script along edges, Arabic script naming vizier above horse's rump. Two piercings and some graffiti on king's cheek. Album 98.4, cf. Zeno 273511 and 278087. This coin: Stephen Album Auction 40, lot 2114 (May 13-15, 2021).

    The Afrighids were an Iranian-related and Zoroastrian-practicing dynasty which ruled a kingdom in Khwarazmia in Central Asia (along the southern shore of the Aral Sea) for a number of centuries, surviving independent of the expanding Islamic world for a surprisingly long time. Unfortunately, little historical information survives. The great historian Al-Biruni (973-c.1050 AD), himself born in the Afrighid kingdom, claimed that an Arab Muslim invasion in 712 AD killed all the native scholars, though this may be exaggerated; nonetheless, essentially all our surviving information is from later Muslim sources (mostly Al-Biruni himself). The origins of the Afrighid dynasty are not well-understood (Al-Biruni's claim that a shah named Afrig started the dynasty in 305 AD has been questioned), but they seem to have ruled in relative peace and prosperity for a while. In 712 AD, the Arab governor of Khurasan took advantage of a civil war and invaded, causing much destruction; however, he left without establishing permanent Arab control over the region, and the Afrighids rebounded. The king in whose name this coin was issued, Azkajwar, was the first Afrighid ruler to convert to Islam; he took the name Abdallah ("Servant of God"), which is a common choice for Muslim converts. However, the Afrighids continued to be independent of other Islamic dynasties, and it took some time before Islam replaced Zoroastrianism as the main religion of the people. The dynasty finally ended in 995 AD, when the last Afrighid king was killed by the Ma'munid ruler.

    Coins of the Afrighids have a very distinctive style, and I have had them on my informal "wish list" for a while. I don't find the two piercings on this specimen to be disqualifying, but apparently a lot of other bidders did, so I was finally successful in acquiring an Afrighid coin. Despite the shortage of historical information, I like this coin a great deal. Please post your Afrighid coins, or whatever else may be related.
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  3. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    Never seen one before, great addition!
  4. Spaniard

    Spaniard Supporter! Supporter

    @Parthicus......Very nice indeed!......Difficult to find and has good detail!
    Congrats on a hard to come by find...
  5. Ed Snible

    Ed Snible Well-Known Member

    I like it! Especially the combination of Sogdian and Arabic inscriptions.

    I recall you have had your eyes on this type for a while.
    Spaniard likes this.
  6. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    I agree, the holes just make it more affordable but no less desirable for the historical collector! My only Afrighid coin was a cheap pickup on Ebay. Coincidentally it's a coin of the first Azkatswar "Chegan", who collaborated with the Muslims but died in reprisals after the 712 invasion you mention. He was probably of Chaganian descent, as indicated by the tamgha on the reverse:
  7. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Well-Known Member

    Parthicus, Congrats on pursuing these obscure coins & being able research them :D
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