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A Cartoon-Sasanian drachm? No, just a late Eastern Sistan issue


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Arab-Sasanian, Eastern Sistan series. AR drachm (3.48 g, 31 mm). No date visible, c. late 8th century CE. Obverse: Imitation of Sasanian obverse of Khusro II with his cartoonish bust, name before in Pahlavi script; in margin, Arabic inscription "Bismillah rabi" (In the Name of God, Lord) and uncertain name, possibly Umar. Reverse: Imitation of Sasanian reverse with fire-altar and two attendants, blundered mintmark SK (Sakastan), date either missing or too blundered to read. This coin: Pars Coins Bargain eSale #5, lot 137 (July 3, 2023).

The earliest Islamic silver coins were based on copies of Sasanian drachms. This template was replaced in most of the Islamic world around 700 AD as the "post-reform" silver dirhams entered circulation, with a novel design containing only Arabic inscriptions. However, Sassanian-style silver coinage persisted along the edges of the Muslim world for many decades. One of the latest regions under Muslim control to issue Sassanian-Based coins was Eastern Sistan, a region along the border of modern Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. In a previous post, I showed how the late Sasanian coinage gradually evolved into the late Eastern Sistan type:
This coin is part of the late series in that progression. There appears to be a name in the obverse border, which may be a local governor or a mint official; the auctioneer suggests it may be Umar, but I have trouble seeing that on the given coin. There are a number of names that have been reported on Eastern Sistan coins, but almost all are unknown to history anyway. I also have trouble reading any sort of date on the coin; the auctioneer suggests is is 100 ("sad" in Persian), but I don't see it, and even if the date is in the post-Yazdegard Era rather than post-Hijra it seems too early given the style of the coin. Regardless of the uncertainty on exactly who issued the coin and when, I find the primitive style appealing, and what fun would life be without a few mysteries? At a final bid of just $36, the price was also very appealing. Please post any related coins you have, or suggest alternate readings of the Pahlavi or Arabic inscriptions.

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