Vahram II poses with wife and son

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Parthicus, Oct 2, 2021.

  1. Parthicus

    Parthicus Well-Known Member

    Vahram II family.jpg
    Sasanian Kingdom. AR drachm (26 mm). Vahram II (c.276-293 AD). Obverse: Busts of King Vahram and Queen Shabuhrdukhtag facing right, smaller bust of prince wearing Crown 4(?), no wreath, inscription in Pahlavi script around "Mazdasin bagi Varahran shahan shah Eran minuchetri min yazdan" (The Mazda-worshipper Varhran, King of Kings of Iran, who is descended from the gods). Reverse: Zoroastrian fire-altar with two attendants facing outwards, to sides Pahavi inscription "Nura zi Varahran" (Fire of Vahram). Gobl 58, Mitchiner ACW 849-851, Sunrise 786. This coin: Frank S. Robinson Auction 114, lot 365 (December 8, 2020).

    Vahram II (c.276-293 AD), also spelled Bahram, Varhran, or Wahram, was the grandson of the great Shapuhr I (241-272). Shapuhr was succeeded by a son, Hormazd I, who died after only a year, and then by his eldest son, Vahram I (273-276). This apparently frustrated yet another son of Shapuhr, Narseh, who felt entitled to the throne but for now was placated with the title of King of Armenia. Vahram I initially assisted the revolt of Zenobia in Palmyra against Rome, but soon backed down and withdrew his support in hopes of maintaining good relations with Rome. Vahram II took over on his father's death, and soon faced rebellions in Sakastan and Bactria in the east and Khuzistan in the west. The Roman emperor Carus, seeing the temporary weakness of the Sasanians, brought troops across the Euphrates and even threatened the Sasanian capital. However, Carus' sudden death (reportedly struck by lightning) forced the Romans to withdraw back to their own territory. The new Roman emperor, Diocletian, helped a rival claimant to the Armenian throne, Tiridates III, who during the conflict converted to Christianity. (Given Diocletian's well-known persecution of Christians, it seems odd that he would support a Christian rebel. At any rate, Tiridates III was soon killed by rivals, leading to a lengthy civil war.)

    Speaking of religion, Vahram himself seems to have been a fervent Zoroastrian, and his rise to power was greatly assisted by the Zoroastrian high priest Kardir. He persecuted the new Manichaean religion, as well as Christians, Jews, Buddhists, and Gnostics. Under Vahram, the Zoroastrian priests took over the judicial powers throughout the empire. Vahram II died in 293 and was succeeded by Vahram III (probably his son). However, Narseh quickly led a large force down through Media and took the throne for himself later the same year.

    Vahram II's coins are noteworthy for the family portraits. Coins showing the king alone are uncommon; most show the king and queen facing a prince (rarer varieties feature king plus queen alone or king plus prince alone). This is presumably meant to emphasize the importance of the royal succession and guarantee smooth transfer of power (and thus head off potential rivals like Narseh). Robert Gobl, in his standard work, assigns the coins to four separate princes based on varieties in the crowns and comparisons to a monumental rock carving of Vahram II and family at Naqsh-i-Rustam. Touraj Daryaee, however, simply assigns all the types to the future Vahram III. As none of the figures besides the king are named on the coins, there doesn't seem to be any definitive answer. Please share your coins of Vahram II, or whatever else is related.

    Sources used:
    Daryaee, Touraj. Sasanian Persia: The Rise and Fall of an Empire. London: I.B. Tauris, 2009. ISBN: 978-1-78076-378-1. See especially pp.10-12.
    Gobl, Robert. Sasanian Numismatics. Translated by Paul Severin. New York: Sanford J. Durst, 1990. ISBN 0-942666-63-1. See especially pp.43-45.
    Mitchiner, Michael. Oriental Coins and Their Values, Volume I: The Ancient and Classical World 600 B.C.- A.D. 650. London: Hawkins Publications, 1978. ISBN 0-904173-16-X. See especially pp. 154-155.
    Rezakhani, Khodadad. The Sasanian Empire. In Numismatic Art of Persia: The Sunrise Collection, Part I: Ancient- 650 BC to AD 650. Lancaster: Classical Numismatic Group, 2011. ISBN 978-0-9837652-8-8. See especially pp. 298-299.
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  3. ominus1

    ominus1 LOOK OUT!!...HE'S GOT A GUN!! Supporter

    fine coin....Ahura Mazda..:)
    Mammothtooth likes this.
  4. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member

  5. Mammothtooth

    Mammothtooth Stand up Philosopher, Vodka Taster

    Very nice coin from both of you……Nice story, liked it.
  6. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    There are multiple crown types for the Queen, but I can't always tell them apart. Mine's a horse-head crown, I think. (Dealer descriptions standardly call them all boars.)

    bahram ii.jpg
  7. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

    I have a very limited selection of Sasanians...

    Persia Sasanian Empire
    Ardashir III
    628-629 CE
    AR Drachm
    36mm 3.85g
    Zoroastrian Fire Alter
    Gobl II-1 yr 2 Delta R
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