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Two Kushano-Sasanian bronzes


Parthicus
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Next up in my review of my Baltimore Whitman show haul: two Kushano-Sasanian bronze coins.

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Coin 1: Kushano-Sasanians. AE 15. Hormazd Kushanshah (c.270- 300). Obverse: Bust of king right, Pahlavi inscription around. Reverse: "Investiture scene" with Hormazd standing on left, deity (or sub-king) partially seated on right. Jongeward 2221-2224. This coin: Purchased from Tamco Numismatics at Baltimore Whitman Coin Expo (October 2022).
 

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Coin 2: Kushano-Sasanians. AE 20. Peroz Kushanshah (c. 245-270). Obverse: Kushan-style king standing, facing left, holding trident in left hand and sacrificing over altar with right hand, Bactrian legend around. Reverse: Shiva standing facing, in front of bull facing left. MACW 1275-7, MK1105. This coin: Purchased from Aristos Ancients at Baltimore Whitman Coin Expo (October 2022).

The newly formed Sasanian Persian Empire conquered territories in Bactria, Gandhara, and Sogdiana from the Kushans about 225, and shortly afterwards set the area up under a series of governors who took the title of Kushanshah (King of the Kushans). Little is known of their history except from scattered inscriptions and their coins. The Kushanshahs issued coins in their own names, although some shared their names with kings of the main Sasanian line, distinguished only by their title of Kushanshah. The coins contain a mix of Kushan-derived and Sasanian-derived designs. Around 360 the Kidarite Huns conquered most of the region, and what was left was absorbed by the Sasanians into their main territory, ending the line of Kushanshahs.

Both of these coins were sold attributed, and I have included these attributions above, but I still have questions about each coin. For Coin #1, I believe the attribution to Hormazd Kushanshah is correct. However, different sources gave different explanations of the reverse scene. The taller figure on the left is identified as the Kushanshah (recognizable by this wearing the same headdress as on the obverse), but the identity of the partially-seated figure is less clear. Some say it is a deity conferring authority on the Kushanshah, others say it is a subordinate ruler receiving his authority from the Kushanshah.This seems like it would be a difficult argument to solve definitively. For Coin #2, my uncertainty is with which Kushanshah issued the coin. The seller identifies this as a coin of Peroz Kushanshah (c. 245-270), and all the examples of this type I found on Zeno also attribute it to Peroz. However, Mitchiner's Ancient and Classical World (MACW) assigns this type to Peroz. The inscription on this coin appears reasonably clear, but I had some trouble reading it. The left portion (from about 7 to 10 o'clock) seems to spell out "Kushan" in Bactrian, but I couldn't work out the rest of the inscription. Maybe you can read this and confirm or refute the Peroz ID? Anyway, thanks for reading, and please share your related coins.

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Looking at Mitchiner 1275, he writes the legend as πιρωζοο οζορκο κοϸονο ("pirōzoo ozorko koshono" to my eye, with πι ligatured) but for some reason he transliterates πιρωζοο as "Hrmzdo". Try as I might, however, I can't make sense of the ruler's name on your coin which should be at upper right but may begin immediately after "koshono", around 10 o'clock. Unfortunately, parts of the margin are flat. 

The examples at Zeno are no better. Most have little or no useful inscription. They are attributed by type. Apparently the type is known only for Peroz.

More broadly, the attribution at Zeno seems to be based on Joe Cribb's typology. Joe is the acknowledged expert in this area. Mitchiner's book is very useful in assigning a number to a coin type for ease of reference but his attributions must be accepted with caution. The work is what it is. That said, I refer to my copy frequently.

[edited]

Edited by DLTcoins
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Thanks @DLTcoins for your notes on the inscription.  Unfortunately Mitchiner is the only reference I have in hand for Kushano-Sasanian (and many other) coins.  It is a useful reference but, as you note, should certainly be considered skeptically.  I usually supplement it with online sources such as Zeno, but of course Zeno has its own issues. Why doesn't someone just make a complete, up-to-date, accurate, easy-to-use book that fully attributes every variety of ancient coin?  Oh, and the book should be free or very inexpensive.  I can't imagine why nobody has made such a book. 🤔

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19 hours ago, Parthicus said:

Thanks @DLTcoins for your notes on the inscription.  Unfortunately Mitchiner is the only reference I have in hand for Kushano-Sasanian (and many other) coins.  It is a useful reference but, as you note, should certainly be considered skeptically.  I usually supplement it with online sources such as Zeno, but of course Zeno has its own issues. Why doesn't someone just make a complete, up-to-date, accurate, easy-to-use book that fully attributes every variety of ancient coin?  Oh, and the book should be free or very inexpensive.  I can't imagine why nobody has made such a book. 🤔

There's a great reference for Kushan coins, though it's a bit expensive; "Kushan, Kushano-sasanian, and Kidarite Coins: A Catalogue of Coins from the American Numismatic Society". The forthcoming BM catalogue will be even better, but I have no idea when that will release. For specifically Kushano-Sasanian coins, Joe Cribb's article is available for free online; it's a bit older but as far as I know still fairly up-to-date.

Your first coin does not depict a subordinate ruler; there are other investiture scene types that do identify it as a deity. In this earlier type, the deity is identified as Lady Anahita; there is a dinar as well, which shows up very rarely. As for your second coin, it is an issue of Peroz I Kushanshah; there are no other rulers who issued coins with that combination of obverse and reverse. The complete legend reads ΠΙΡΩΖΟ ΟΟΖΟΡΚΟ ΚΟϷΑΝΟ ϷΟΥΟ, with ΟΟΡΖΑΟΑΝΔΟ ΙΑΖΑΔΟ on the reverse.1211827095_ANS2140.png.24122708a49981a264ac60ece597f4d6.png

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