Unusual Transition Piece

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by medoraman, Jul 2, 2020.

  1. medoraman

    medoraman Supporter! Supporter

    Everyone here has probably heard of Arab-Byzantine coins that were struck when the Muslims took over former Byzantine territories. Same can be said of Arab-Sasanian pieces. Less well know are Sasanian-Byzantine coins. There were struck when the Sasanid armies took over Egypt and the Near East from the Byzantines before the Muslim invasions. Short story is Khusro II, with his Parthian general Shahrbaraz, was on the verge of wiping out the Byzantine civilization. Unfortunately, Khusro II then got paranoid and ordered another general to kill Shahrbaraz. Well, the second general was a cousin of Shahrbaaraz, and they teamed up to go kill Khusro II. The Byzantines counterattacked, the Sasanid court thrown into disarray, both the Byzantines and Sasanians were exhausted and THEN the Muslims invaded....

    Anyway, for years we knew about Khusro II issues in Alexandria Egypt. I own both denominations but my photo ability is crap, so here is one from Wiki.

    Only relatively recently has another type of Sasanian-Byzantine type been identified. It was struck in a different mint, (Antioch?) imitating a different kind of Byzantine coin. I have been meaning to pick one up, missing a few, but got one yesterday:
    Sasanian byzantine.jpg
    SASANIAN KINGS. temp. Husrav (Khosrau) II. AD 591-628. Æ Follis (30mm, 10.67 g, 6h). Imitating a 2nd officina Seleucia Isauriae mint issue of Heraclius, with Heraclius Constantine, dated [RY 7 (616/7)]. Uncertain mint. Struck during the Sasanian occupation of the Levant and Anatolia, 610-628/30. Crowned and draped figures of Heraclius and Heraclius Constantine standing facing, both holding globus cruciger; cross between / Large M; six-rayed star above, A/N/N/O to left, [ЧI] to right, B below; CON in exergue. Pottier AA2-1.5 (same dies as illustration). Dark earthen green patina. Good Fine

    Anyone else find transitional coinage fascinating?
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  3. David@PCC

    David@PCC allcoinage.com

    Transitions are always interesting especially when then next culture borrows context from the previous. I have many Arab Byzantine but just one of these.

    Mint: Alexandria
    610 to 641 AD
    AE 12 Nummi
    Obvs: Draped and cuirassed bust facing, wearing crown surmounted by cross within crescent. Eight-rayed star to left, crescent to right.
    Revs: Large IB, cross on globe between. AΛЄΞ
    18mm, 6.38g
    Ref: Sear 855
  4. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    What is above the M? A cross is expected but I could see than being removed for religious reasons. The photo could show a P??? The portraits have crosses so I suspect the item is just a cross damaged in burial/recovery.
  5. Parthicus

    Parthicus Well-Known Member

    Hmm, transitional coinage...
    Bukhara al-Mahdi.jpg
    Sistan Salih.jpg
    Nope, definitely not interested in them ;)
  6. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Amen-Ra-Hotep

    Very interesting post. Thank You.
  7. Pellinore

    Pellinore Supporter! Supporter

    Transition pieces, that's a good name. People have a circulating coinage, then their realm is conquered, and after that, a new coinage is to be introduced. People don't want to trade in coins they don't know and trust. They want coins they are used to, so they keep the old ones in circulation. And that's when coins are introduced that are slightly different.

    The silver Sasanian drachm was ubiquitous in all of the former Persian empire and used in Northern India, too. So after the end of the Persian empire various fossilized heads of the copious output of Sasanian silver were minted in various localities.

    Nr. 2 and 3 of the examples of Parthicus show a Sasanian head and fire altar, just like this Gurjara-Pratihara coin of Northern India, outside of the reach of Islam. You can see the head of Xusro II decked in a flower hat on the obverse and traces of the fire altar, evolved in a graceful play of lines and dots (debased silver, 22 mm, 3.91 gr., c.730-836 AD).

    5779 Gurjara Pratihara.jpg

    And this drachm modeling after Xusro I minted in Chaghaniyan, a long and narrow river valley between modern Dushanbe and Termez (Uzbekistan) that was independent in the 7th and early 8th century (silver, 25 mm, 2.61 gr. Zeno 199516, about 600 AD). The countermarks are associated with Bactrian script and Hunnic imagery.

    5739 Chaganiyan ct.jpg

    The last one is a type of coin that's very dear to me in its delicate form, local copper coinage from the Persian heartland after the Arabic conquest. It was minted in what's now Firuzabad, an essentially Sasanian town with an amazing circular fort, founded by the first Great King Ardashir I.

    5412 ct.jpg

    Again, here's the bust of Xusro II, but on the reverse is one of the fascinating fable animals of Persian mythology, the senmurv - a large bird with the head of a dog and the claws of a lion. It's a benevolent animal that can easily fly away with an angry elephant in its claws. The coin has a very thin and delicate fabric (22 x 21 mm, 0.74 gr. Zeno 204927, dating from 695-699 AD - that's four decades after the islamic conquest). A fascinating transition coin.
  8. dltsrq

    dltsrq Grumpy Old Man

    It's worth noting that prior to the conquests of Syria and Persia, the Arabs had been prolific traders but minted no coins of their own. Byzantine gold and Persian silver were traded as bullion in Arabian cities like Mecca and Medina. Management of a vast bureaucratic empire with a moneyed economy is not something learned overnight. Still, by 750 CE, a standardized Islamic currency was in use from Spain, across North Africa, throughout the Middle East and Persia, eastward as far as Samarqand and into the Indus Valley.

    Parthicus, Pellinore and thejewk like this.
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