Nezak Huns of Kabul; Drachm of Napki Malka, ca 630-700AD, and other Huns

Started by THCoins, May 05, 2013, 05:52:19 PM

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The Nezak huns succeed the hepthalites as rulers of a region comprizing greater Afghanistan. They were contemporaries of the later Sassanians.

The coins of Napki Malka are found in quite large quantities in the Kabul area.
Characteristic is the winged crown of the ruler with a bull's head on top of it.
The reverse shows a fire altar with stylized attendants and eight spoked wheels above.
Coin 1: AE 25 mm 3.7 gr.

I modified this post to include a second type. At a certain point in time Nezak rule in Bactria and Ganghara was replaced by Turko-Hephthalite invaders. They continued issuing the "Napki Malka"type of coins. However the Dynastic symbol of the bull crown was replaced by a spikey crown. Coin 2: AR 28 mm 2,75 gr





I think Hun coins are fascinating, especially the differences in portraiture on them. As a result I've accumulated a couple of dozen of them, and I attach the most recent couple of Napki Malka, both Gobl 200, probably Kapisa mint, 3.28, 26 mm and 3.7 gm, 27 mm respectively.

The first one shows signs of the silver coating but the other one appears to be just bronze.

The nicest Hun piece I have is a Kidarite one, of 'King C' ['Buddhatala', 'Buddhamitra' ?], c.388-400 AD, Gobl 18, 3.68 gm, 30 mm, probably struck in the Swat valley.

I recently found a book, Vol.III of a UNESCO publication, 'History of Civilizations of Central Asia', which seems to give fairly precise identifications of the various Hun rulers, with dates, but I haven't had a chance to more than dip into it yet.



Thanks for the comment and additions !

The "Huns" seem a rather "grey" area in history between several well defined cultures. I never had a good reference book. From the information i did gather it has become clear that there is slowly coming some structure in the recorded history of the different hun societies. This has for example placed the Napki Malka types later in time than previously thought.

I posted this coin also because i thought the subject was a bit neglected on the forum. I have some more, but this i thought was the nicest and most representative example. With these added ones we have increased the zero coins shown on the forum to four !


Great stuff, gentlemen. Indeed, if ever confronted with such a coin, I would have thought "Sassanian" first. I am intrigued by what seems to be a deformation in the centre of the "Hun 19" coin. Not sure if it is concave or convex and wondering why there is no corresponding deformation on the other side. Maybe this coin was at some time used as jewellery?

In general, the history of the 6th to 8th century is under-researched everywhere. What you usually get is generalities on nomadic conquests and not much more.* Coins may be the best way to piece together some first basic history.


* UK historians are at last converging around the conclusion that Arthur and Mordred never existed and are at best multiple personalities.
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.


Hi Peter

Hun coins are of course mainly based on Sasanian originals and form part of a whole spectrum from the Sasanian through the Hun issues and the Gurjara-Pratihara issues in India to the gadhia pice of the 14th century. A new book arrived last week and has had to go on the 'to read' pile: 'Imitations in Continuity: Tracking The Silver Coinage of Early Medieval India' by K.K. Maheshwari. This traces the development from the late Hun issues in India through the Gurjara-Pratiharas to the gadhia pice.

The indentation on the Kidarite piece is where the metal has been 'sucked up' into the higher relief of the obverse. If you rotate the reverse 90 degrees clockwise you can even see the king's nose!

The UNESCO book I mentioned has mined fairly deeply into Chinese records and correlated them with the sparse Byzantine and other surrounding histories, and looks as if it should clarify things a lot for me.

THCoins, I'd love to see some more of your Hun pieces: In the meantime a few of my more Sasanian-based ones are below.

Gobl GIH Emm. 3/4, pl. 88, obv. 7, rev. not shown, but countermark as no. 8., Chionite Huns, Northern Tokharistan, principality of Kobadian, 2.91 gm, 31.5 mm, c.490-525

Gobl GIH Emm. 244, Later Huns in Zabulistan/ Sistan, Vakhu (Vasu) Deva, c.680-728, 3.07 gm, 31.5 mm

Gobl GIH Emm. 60 var [60 has palmate spray below bust, this has a circle with pellet below], Khingila, Alchon Huns, c.440-490, 3.74 gm, 27 mm



Some pieces i have are similar to the last two pieces you have shown. But yours are in a better condition. So i wont'repeat them here, also because i would first have to take some time to take photographs. But i have some other related:

- The first coin here shows the gliding scale between Sasanian and Hunnic coins. This is a coin portraying Sasanian king Kavad I around 500 AD. I am not yet fully sure whether this is a official Sasanian issue or a local imitation.

- The second shows an example of a Gurjura Pratihara coin from about 800 to 900 AD, which you mentioned. Already much more abstracts but with well recognizable "stylistic family" elements both in the portrait and in the fire altar on the reverse.

-Added a third: AE Drachm of Narendra. He is one of the later Alchon Huns, ca 550-600 AD. I is uniface 25 mm, 3.64 gr.
Portrait of the ruler facing right, holding grain stalks. Göbl Hunnen. Em.150


My tiny contribution to the topic - Hunnic imitative drachm of Hormazd IV, if I'm not mistaken


The more the merrier ! Thanks for your contribution. This is gettning to be the central Hun thread.
And i think you are right. Wonder what the countermarksymbol in the lower rim shows if you clean it a bit.


Yes Hormzid IV imitative, this type with the countermark 'opopo' [='Phoro' in Bactrian script] is attributed to 'Phromo Kesaro', c.739-745 AD. One of mine below.

The countermark at lower left is a king's(?) head left, see detail below.



@Manzikert: Nice ! Knew it was supposed to be a face, never seen it this clear and close up !


Quote from: Manzikert on July 03, 2013, 11:09:04 PM
The countermark at lower left is a king's(?) head left, see detail below.

Newer thought it was a head :o , thanks for this info!
To keep up this fascinating topic here are some of my AE Half Drachm Units, Göbl Hunnen Em. 227 and 253 types.


Nice ! These again are the "spikey crown" types. Looks like the die size of the reverse side of your last coin was much larger than the flan. Could that be a drachm die used for a half drachm ?


Attached is a scan of my only (not very good) fractional drachm. I have it listed as a quarter drachm, Em 328, but the weight is actually nearer a third of a drachm, 1.18 gm as opposed to 3.28 and 3.07 gm for my two drachms, so you are probably right that it is an underweight half drachm.

The reverse die on this is obviously for a full drachm sized coin: perhaps they all were.



I don't have any fractional drachms, nor have i seen them often. Even if you say it is not very good, it is detailed enough to be attributable and still quite pleasing to the eye !