Author Topic: Bukhara, king Hirkod / Hyrcodes  (Read 512 times)

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Offline Finn235

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Bukhara, king Hirkod / Hyrcodes
« on: September 24, 2018, 09:46:57 PM »
Got this nice little collection from three different auctions in the past month.

These little silver coins all hail from Bukhara, from around the turn of the first millennium, give or take a century. Hirkod/Hyrcodes is not attested in any surviving history. Based on the style, artistry, and language, we can surmise that his celatores studied under the Greeks, and that his coinage was copied for some time after his death on a rapidly reducing (or poorly maintained) weight standard. It is assumed that he was ethnically Scythian or Yueh-chi.

Lifetime or early posthumous AR "Drachm"
15mm, 2.68g
Obv: Portrait right, YPKωΔ behind
Rev: Soldier/deity standing, wearing heavy coat, holding spear and hand on hips, flames on shoulders, badly garbled Greek legends

Offline Finn235

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Re: Bukhara, king Hirkod / Hyrcodes
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2018, 09:48:23 PM »
Probably posthumous? AR "hemidrachm"
15mm, 1.05g
Obv: Portrait right, no legend
Rev: Soldier/deity standing, wearing heavy coat, holding spear and hand on hips, flames on shoulders, badly garbled Greek legends

Offline Finn235

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Re: Bukhara, king Hirkod / Hyrcodes
« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2018, 09:51:35 PM »
The last type is much more rare, featuring a horse protome. It comes in at least a few denominations, and with a reverse legend in either Greek or Sogdian/Aramaic

AR "obol" 11mm, 0.66g
Obv: Bust of king right, (YP)KωΔ behind (Hirkod)
Rev: Forepart of horse, uncertain Greek legend around (probably YPKωΔ again)

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Bukhara, king Hirkod / Hyrcodes
« Reply #3 on: September 26, 2018, 07:30:32 AM »
Highly interesting for me, as I am haltingly trying to piece together Central Asian history. These coins look pre-islamic to me. They would fit in after the "Lord of Bokhara" issues (585-700 AD). Logically, they should precede the Samanid issues starting around 300 AH (around 900 AD) in Bukhara. Is that correct? Is this the last dynasty before islamisation?

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

Offline THCoins

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Re: Bukhara, king Hirkod / Hyrcodes
« Reply #4 on: September 26, 2018, 08:45:05 AM »
Great series !
If i'm not mistaken these types with the more realistic portraits are dated to about Kushan times so upto second, third century AD. There are more abstract types which date from around 500AD. So a bit earlier than your initial thought Peter. But Finn will probably know even more specifics.

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Bukhara, king Hirkod / Hyrcodes
« Reply #5 on: September 26, 2018, 09:00:25 AM »
Makes sense to me, TH. The Hellenistic, rather than Sassanid influence would fit better around 500AD. However, I read:

These little silver coins all hail from Bukhara, from around the turn of the first millennium, give or take a century.

 That odd back of the head figures on some Chach coins also. Caesar reports that Germanic tribes would deform the skulls of some baby boys by binding them, to make them look more fearsome as warriors. They also heavily tattooed their faces, making them look blue. There is of course no chance that the Scythians copied this from a Western European example, but they may have hit on a similar reasoning and a king has a vested interest in looking like a fearsome warrior.

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

Offline Finn235

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Re: Bukhara, king Hirkod / Hyrcodes
« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2018, 04:04:06 PM »
Sorry, I thought I had put the dates in more clearly  :-\

I have seen dates given anywhere between 150 BC and 200 AD; given how much the weight can vary, it isn't a stretch to imagine that these may have been made for 200-300 years.

The deformed cranium doesn't mean much; that was a common thing across the entire inhabited world (except for Western/Southern Europe and the core of China) from before recorded history, and continues to this day in small pockets.

What few clues we have about the dating:
- The legend is almost exclusively in Greek, not Bactrian. That probably pins the inscribed coins to before the reign of  Kanishka (i.e. 150 AD)
- The portraiture is refined and, on early coins, in high relief; a calling card of a Greek-trained celator.
- The miniscule ω was not commonly used on Greek coins until about 100 BC.
- The "soldier" (I've heard it suggested he may be Pharro) is in a pretty distinctive Kushan outfit
- It's impossible to deny the parallels in portraiture to the Kushan king "Heraios":