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My coin of the year: Queen Boran


Parthicus
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Although there's still two months left in the year (including the Baltimore show at the end of this month), I'm almost certain that I've already purchased my top coin of the year. It is one of my "bucket list" types that I've been hoping to acquire for years now, and I finally had the chance to do so. Photo borrowed from the seller because My attempts at photography did not do the coin justice:

image.jpeg.7d72898f0631f9dbb094f53b24ba570f.jpeg

Sasanian Empire. AR drachm (3.00 g, clipped). Queen Boran (630-631). Obverse: Bust of queen right, legend in Pahlavi before and behind "Bwran GDH abzwt" (Boran [who] multiplies glory). Reverse: Zoroastrian fire-altar with two attendants, crescent and sun above, to right mintmark SK (Sakastan), to left date [Year] 2. Gobl I/1 (229), MACW 1241, Sunrise 1006. This coin: Stephen Album Auction 44, lot 110 (September 15-18, 2022).

In 628, a conspiracy of nobles removed Khusro II from the throne, put him through a show trial, and executed him. This would set off a highly unsettled period in Sasanian history that would end in the empire being conquered by the nascent Islamic caliphate. The oldest son of Khusro II took the throne as Kavad II, and promptly executed all his surviving brothers and brothers-in-law to remove potential rivals. Kavad made peace with the Byzantines, but soon died, apparently of natural causes, and was succeeded by his young son Ardashir III (628-630). Ardashir was essentially a puppet of two powerful officials, until one of them, a general, Shahrbaraz, took the throne for himself. Shahrbaraz in turn lasted only a few months before Boran, a surviving daughter of Khusro II and thus having a stronger claim to legitimacy, seized the throne. Boran spent her short reign trying to rebuild the empire and fighting off various minor rivals. She had good relations with the Byzantines and was broadly accepted by most factions of the nobility and the Zoroastrian priesthood. The presence of a number of different mintmarks on her coins, from mints spread over a wide area, indicates that her support was not limited to just one geographic section of the empire. However, she was eventually overthrown and murdered by one of her generals, and was succeeded by her sister Azarmidokht, the last legitimate heir of Khusro II. After several more short-lived claimants, the throne finally went to Yazdegard III (632-651). The empire might have had a chance to recover, but the armies of the new Islamic caliphate soon swept out of Arabia and began their rapid conquest of both Sasanian and Byzantine territory, finally ending the Sasanian Empire with the killing of Yazdegard in 651.  

The portrait of Boran on her coins does closely resemble that of her father Khusro II, minus the beard, and with ribbons extending downwards from her crown and onto her shoulders. Gobl notes, "Since the cutters were accustomed to representing men only, neither lady [Boran or Vahram II's queen] makes a very feminine impression. A similar situation had arisen in Rome when Salonina, the wife of Gallienus, betrays a robber's face is Siscia like her husband, and Severina Aureliani the severe traits of the rude Illyrian emperor." Also noteworthy, this coin has been clipped down from its original weight (the Sasanian drachm of approximately 4.0 g) to 3.0 g. This is fairly common on late Sasanian and Arab-Sasanian coins, which were later cut down to approximate the post-reform Umayyad dirham of 2.9 g. Coins of Boran are rather rare today, and I was lucky to be able to acquire this one. Now, if I can just get an Azarmidokht... Please feel free to comment, or post whatever coins are related.

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3 hours ago, Parthicus said:

Although there's still two months left in the year (including the Baltimore show at the end of this month), I'm almost certain that I've already purchased my top coin of the year. It is one of my "bucket list" types that I've been hoping to acquire for years now, and I finally had the chance to do so. Photo borrowed from the seller because My attempts at photography did not do the coin justice:

image.jpeg.7d72898f0631f9dbb094f53b24ba570f.jpeg

Sasanian Empire. AR drachm (3.00 g, clipped). Queen Boran (630-631). Obverse: Bust of queen right, legend in Pahlavi before and behind "Bwran GDH abzwt" (Boran [who] multiplies glory). Reverse: Zoroastrian fire-altar with two attendants, crescent and sun above, to right mintmark SK (Sakastan), to left date [Year] 2. Gobl I/1 (229), MACW 1241, Sunrise 1006. This coin: Stephen Album Auction 44, lot 110 (September 15-18, 2022).

In 628, a conspiracy of nobles removed Khusro II from the throne, put him through a show trial, and executed him. This would set off a highly unsettled period in Sasanian history that would end in the empire being conquered by the nascent Islamic caliphate. The oldest son of Khusro II took the throne as Kavad II, and promptly executed all his surviving brothers and brothers-in-law to remove potential rivals. Kavad made peace with the Byzantines, but soon died, apparently of natural causes, and was succeeded by his young son Ardashir III (628-630). Ardashir was essentially a puppet of two powerful officials, until one of them, a general, Shahrbaraz, took the throne for himself. Shahrbaraz in turn lasted only a few months before Boran, a surviving daughter of Khusro II and thus having a stronger claim to legitimacy, seized the throne. Boran spent her short reign trying to rebuild the empire and fighting off various minor rivals. She had good relations with the Byzantines and was broadly accepted by most factions of the nobility and the Zoroastrian priesthood. The presence of a number of different mintmarks on her coins, from mints spread over a wide area, indicates that her support was not limited to just one geographic section of the empire. However, she was eventually overthrown and murdered by one of her generals, and was succeeded by her sister Azarmidokht, the last legitimate heir of Khusro II. After several more short-lived claimants, the throne finally went to Yazdegard III (632-651). The empire might have had a chance to recover, but the armies of the new Islamic caliphate soon swept out of Arabia and began their rapid conquest of both Sasanian and Byzantine territory, finally ending the Sasanian Empire with the killing of Yazdegard in 651.  

The portrait of Boran on her coins does closely resemble that of her father Khusro II, minus the beard, and with ribbons extending downwards from her crown and onto her shoulders. Gobl notes, "Since the cutters were accustomed to representing men only, neither lady [Boran or Vahram II's queen] makes a very feminine impression. A similar situation had arisen in Rome when Salonina, the wife of Gallienus, betrays a robber's face is Siscia like her husband, and Severina Aureliani the severe traits of the rude Illyrian emperor." Also noteworthy, this coin has been clipped down from its original weight (the Sasanian drachm of approximately 4.0 g) to 3.0 g. This is fairly common on late Sasanian and Arab-Sasanian coins, which were later cut down to approximate the post-reform Umayyad dirham of 2.9 g. Coins of Boran are rather rare today, and I was lucky to be able to acquire this one. Now, if I can just get an Azarmidokht... Please feel free to comment, or post whatever coins are related.

I enjoyed the excellent writeup ☺️.

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Nothing remotely on this level, but I just landed this today (my Sunday):

 Khosrau I (531-579 CE); drahm /drachm.  (As I'm told by people who know orders of magnitude more than I do, 'drahm,'  as a transliteration, is nearer the Pahlavi /Middle Persian than the Greek 'drachm.')  Cribbing from the listing, this is MI (Mishan mint, in the eastern Khuzistan Province); regnal year 30.

S051XLG.jpg

The very first Sasanian drahm I ever got, as a kid in a local coin shop, was Khosrau.  --Who they were calling 'Xusro,' and it was a 'dirhem' (Sic ...yet again, vis. the last vowel).  But, even as late as this, Khosrau's reign was central to the entire history of the empire, culturally, socially, and geopolitically.  I also like how, from the little I know, the portrait is untypical of the reign.  And the mint, nearer the eastern frontier of the empire, is cool, too --not least since, as of about 560, Khosrau had concluded a major treaty with the Byzantines, allowing him to focus his attention on the opposite side of the border.

Edited by JeandAcre
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