Author Topic: Himyarite AR Syphate Quinarius, Amdan Bayyin  (Read 220 times)

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Offline Finn235

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Himyarite AR Syphate Quinarius, Amdan Bayyin
« on: July 13, 2017, 03:17:47 PM »
Himyarite Kingdom (AKA Arabia Felix, Homerites)
AR Quinarius, Raidan mint
c. 100 AD
Male head right with braided hair and diadem(?), surrounded by "torc"
Smaller male head right, Sabaean "MDN BYN" above, "RDYN" below, "Y-N-D" monogram to left and tamgha-like symbol to right
14mm, 1.21g

Himyar came about around 110 BC when several south Arabian tribes banded together to settle and farm several of the oases scattered across the South Arabian desert. They were reportedly excellent farmers, building a massive dam to collect rain water to yield a constant and reliable water source for their crops. Along with subsistence crops, they were among the largest manufacturers in the world of the coveted incenses, frankincense and myrrh.

Demand for the spices and incenses allowed their economy to boom, and they attempted several times to expand across the whole region, successfully conquering Sheba in 25 BC. The Roman conquest of Egypt under Augustus secured their income flow, and they also used their good relations with Rome to act as trade intermediaries in the African ivory trade.

Historically polytheistic, they adopted Judaism as their state religion in c. 380, apparently in a political bid to appear more civilized to the Byzantines and Sassanians, while remaining neutral by adopting neither Christianity nor Zoroastrianism. The kingdom collapsed in 525 after failing to repel an invasion from the Aksumite kingdom. Their script survives today as the Ge'ez script of Ethiopia.

Offline THCoins

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Re: Himyarite AR Syphate Quinarius, Amdan Bayyin
« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2017, 06:37:21 PM »
Congrats with this nice coin, and thank you for the background info write-up !
Another opportunity for me to peek beyound the borders of my collection foucs.


Offline Figleaf

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Re: Himyarite AR Syphate Quinarius, Amdan Bayyin
« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2017, 11:36:46 AM »
A whole culture I'd never heard of and couldn't place until I read "Aksum". On top of that, a coin that looks like it was struck yesterday. Thank you. My day is made.

I just wonder whence the denomination quinarius? If they traded a lot with Rome, it makes sense to imitate their coins, but nothing would have stopped them adopting their own benchmark. The weight of the coin, perhaps, or its silver content?

The lesson is so clear. Work. Develop technology. Keep the peace with your neighbours. Produce what you are good at and trade with all comers. It's the only get-rich-quickly method I know that works.

It would be interesting to find out what made them succumb to the Aksumites. Their wealth should have enabled them to buy soldiers and allies. Technology, maybe?

An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline Finn235

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Re: Himyarite AR Syphate Quinarius, Amdan Bayyin
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2017, 03:44:36 PM »
Thanks both for the replies!

As for the demise of the kingdom, here is an interesting read:

Apparently, whatever the original intent of the conversion to Judaism, zealotism boiled over and the Himyarite Jews started to massacre Christians. They had allies in the Sassanians, but remember that most of Saudi Arabia is an impassable desert; the combined forces of Aksum and the Byzantines could have easily laid waste to Himyar before the Persians could circumnavigate the Arabian peninsula by boat.

In addition, I don't know the history of the incense trade after the Roman golden age, but I imagine that the demand for frankincense and myrrh went down the drain as Rome fell to the barbarians, the Byzantine economy was in shambles, and then the Sassanian empire nearly fell to the Huns, all within the 450-500 AD time frame! Aksum may have been their only major trading partner, which probably kickstarted the imperialistic desires.