Large Samanid multiple dirham

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Parthicus, Jun 22, 2024.

  1. Parthicus

    Parthicus Well-Known Member

    Samanid Nuh III.jpg
    Samanids. AR multiple dirham (7.74 g, 42 mm). No mint. Nuh III (976-997 CE), no date. Obverse: Standard legend with kalima in center, "yakfi Allah" (God is enough) above, legend around. Reverse: Additional legends in center and around. Album 1969.2, This coin: Stephen Album Internet Auction 26, lot 298 (April 1-2, 2024).

    The Samanids were a dynasty, originally of Persian origin, who ruled a large territory in eastern Persia, Afghanistan, and Central Asia from 817 to 999 CE. While they were effectively independent, for a long time they officially claimed allegiance to the Caliphate in Baghdad and continued to send annual tribute. They were major proponents of Persian literature and culture, and their capital city of Bukhara (in what is now Uzbekistan) was perhaps the second greatest in the Muslim world at the time, behind only Baghdad. Nuh III (or Nuh II, see footnote) took the throne in 976 CE, when the fortunes of the Samanid empire were already on the decline. Effective power had shifted to the Turkic-born military caste, leaving the emir little more than a figurehead. One such commander had seized Ghazni and established the Ghaznavid dynasty, which would chip away at Samanid territory. The Karakhanids were also expanding at the expense of the Samanids. Nuh was unable to reverse this decline, and in 992 the Karakhanids briefly captured the Samanid capital of Bukhara. Nuh died in 997, and two years later the Karakhanids again captured Bukhara, this time for good, ending the Samanids.

    The Samanids issued a large amount of coinage in copper, silver, and gold, but are best known for their silver output, both standard dirhams and the large multiple dirhams such as this specimen. Samanid silver coins circulated widely on the international trade routes, and are frequently found at archaeological sites along the Volga and in Scandinavia. The large multiple dirhams were presumably struck to quickly utilize the silver deposits found in parts of Samanid territory and quickly convert this resource into an easily traded form. The multiple dirhams are usually weakly struck (such as this coin), while other Samanid coins are usually reasonably carefully struck, indicating the haste in converting raw silver into trade coinage. Finally, this coin was one of two I recently posted about, as they took two months to reach me after I won them at auction; first they were accidentally sent to a different winning bidder, then the post office botched the delivery and returned them to the auction house, before finally they were safely delivered to my mailbox. Please post your Samanid coins, or whatever else is relevant.

    Footnote: The ruler who issued this coin is called Nuh II in most sources, but Nuh III in Album's checklist (and therefore by most coin dealers). One of the four brothers who founded the Samanid dynasty was named Nuh, but he is not given a number by most historians. (Leaving him as Nuh the Zeroth, I guess.) But Album does call this founder Nuh I, thus changing the numbering of subsequent rulers named Nuh. As a long-time collector of Parthian coinage, with its frequent renaming and renumbering of rulers, this seems perfectly normal to me, but deserves some explanation.
    robinjojo, GinoLR, sand and 3 others like this.
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  3. willieboyd2

    willieboyd2 First Class Poster

    I have one of these multiple dirhams and I spent some time researching it.

    Samanid Multiple Dirham Nuh II Kurat (No date)
    Silver, 44 mm, 11.17 gm

    Ruler: This coin was minted under the rule of Emir Nuh II whose reign was AH 365 to 387 (AD 976-997).
    Mint: Kurat, located near Fayzabad, Badakhshan province, northeast Afghanistan

    Field: Islam Kalima "There is no god except Allah. He is Alone. There is no partner to Him"
    Ring outer: Quran Surah 30:4 "Of Allah is the Command from before and from after and on that day the believers shall rejoice in the victory of Allah"
    Ring inner: In the name of God, this dirham was struck in Kurat
    Ring outside top: Ayyar (warrior)
    Ring outside bottom: Jayyid (good)

    Field: Allah / Muhammad / Messenger of Allah / Nuh2
    Ring outer: Quran Surah 9:33 "Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. He sent him with the Guidance and a religion of the truth in order that he might cause it to be bright over the religion, although the polytheists disliked it"
    Ring outside top: three dots
    Ring outside bottom: one dot

    These coins, called multiple dirhams, were minted in the 10th century AD in northeast Afghanistan in an area located on the north slopes of the Hindu Kush mountains where a lot of silver was discovered and mined.

    A situation developed similar to the 1850's when the US mints began minting larger size gold coins to accommodate the gold coming from California.

    The ultimate customer for these coins were the Scandinavian Vikings via Russian trading posts, and large hoards of Samanid dirhams have been found in Sweden and Norway, and small hoards in England and Ireland.

    From Afghanistan to Ireland is quite a trip.

    sand, robinjojo and Parthicus like this.
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