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A trilingual Turco-Hephthalite coin


Parthicus

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Turco-Hephthalites. AR drachm (with AV plug). Vasu Deva (c. 600-719). Design based on Sasanian prototype of Khusro II. Obverse: Bust of king right wearing winged crown, lion head atop, surrounded by Brahmi legend, cursive Greek legend along edge, small countermark at 6:30 near edge, small gold plug in coin at king's neck. Reverse: Fire-altar with two attendants, Pahlavi legend to either side, cursive Greek legend along edge. MACW 1560, Gobl 244. This coin: Purchased from Tamco Numismatics at the Whitman Baltimore Coin Expo, November 9, 2023.

This coin was issued in roughly the region of what is now Afghanistan during the 7th century CE. The coin is trilingual, with legends in Brahmi (used to write various Indian languages), Pahlavi (a script used mainly for Persian), and cursive Greek (a late survivor of Hellenism in the region), reflecting the complex cultural mix of the region. The Vasu Deva in whose name this coin was issued is not well known to history, but there is another coin issue of Vasu Deva which names Mardanshah, a viceroy of the Sasanian king Khusro II (590-628) who was executed in 624, which helps to establish the dating. This type is often found with a small gold plug inserted into the area of the neck on the obverse, another interesting feature of the coin. I don't have a lot to say about the history behind this coin, but I really like the design, both the interpretation of the portrait style and the well-preserved trilingual inscriptions. Please post whatever related coins you may have.

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@Parthicus, very interesting coin - is there anything known about "why?" on the AV plug? [Edit: I found some speculation that it might be an attempt to prevent counterfeiting or ensure value, also wondering if the location of the plug on the neck is consistent?].  Greek+Palavi+Brahmi combo in the legends is also fascinating - certainly used at a cross-roads of cultures.  Here's one tri-lingual coin (Mongolian in the Uighur script, Chinese in Phags-Pa script,
and Arabic) from 6-7 centuries later than your coin (AD 1295-1304).

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Ilkhanids. Mahmud Ghazan I, AH 694-703 / AD 1295-1304. Trilingual type, AR 1 Dirhams (2.11g, 19mm), Album 2173, Kashan, 700(?)

Notes: https://www.sullacoins.com/post/a-bride-from-kublai-khan

Edited by Sulla80
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Here's one that I picked up this week with a "copper pellet" instead of gold...

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Turko-Hephthalites in Afghanistan, Vasu Deva. Circa 720 AD  AR Drachm 3.25g. Mint in Zabulistan or Seistan.

Obv: Winged Turkish bust right, Brahmi legend, Greek legend around, copper plug and countermark

Rev: Fire altar with attendants and ribbon, Pahlavi to either side, Greek legend around. .  triliungual legends (Pahlavi, Bactrian, Greek) 

Notes: http://www.moneta-coins.com/photopost/showphoto.php?photo=2732&title=nezak-hunsvasudeva&cat=907

Close up look at the "pellet" and part of the countermark.

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Edited by Sulla80
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