World of Coins

Medieval and cash coins => Other medieval coins => Topic started by: Pellinore on August 09, 2018, 12:24:04 AM

Title: Sasanian drachm of Shapur II (309-379)
Post by: Pellinore on August 09, 2018, 12:24:04 AM
My first discovery of coins that were out of the box was Sasanians. I was only 16 or so and it gripped me so much that I decided to study Middle-Persian. In the end, I did not. My life might have been different, even if I probably never would have finished that university course.
Decades have passed, the world has changed enormously, but the Sasanians are still - wow, those large silver coins, a numismatic revolution in the 3rd century, with a detailed stylized portrait on the obverse and a strong ritual depiction on the reverse. 

This is Shapur II (309-379), one of longest reigning monarchs in history, but he was already crowned in the womb. Shapur was a quite venturesome king who warred with the Romans in the West, with the Arabs in the South and with the Alchons and Kushans in the East. At his death he left his country in the ascendant, but his successors were less happy.

His coins vary a lot, drachms often are a bit smaller and thicker than before and after him. This drachms shows the head of Ahura Mazda in the flames of the altar.

Shapur II (309-379), silver drachm. Obv. Head right with hairball-topped crown and pearl net. Rev. Fire altar with attendants, word on shaft. Göbl type I b/6a (head in flames to the right). 22 mm, 4.33 gr.

-- Paul

Title: Re: Sasanian drachm of Shapur II (309-379)
Post by: Figleaf on August 17, 2018, 03:47:02 PM
Very much agreed, Paul. A fascinating topic. This site is full of imitations of this prototype from a large area and over a very considerable time. I once owned such a far descendent (,7595.0). Can you make out the portrait and the fire altar?

To discover yet another angle of Sassanidian coins, I recommend Sassanidische kunst en de beeldtaal op munten: invloed en interpretatie (Sassanian art and iconography on coins: influence and interpretation) by Dr. Habil Rika Gyselen. No ISBN. It was issued at the 2009 Enno van Gelder lecture. It may be hard to find, but I trust if anyone can can find a copy, it will be you.

Title: Re: Sasanian drachm of Shapur II (309-379)
Post by: Pellinore on October 30, 2018, 08:19:29 PM
This article may be found online here: (vol. 1) and vol. 2 is here:
And it is very useful, especially if you want to practise your Dutch.

-- Paul