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A nice drachm of Yazdegard I


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Sasanian Kingdom. AR drachm. Yazdegard I (399-420 AD). Obverse: Bust of Yazdegard I right, legend in Pahlavi script around giving his name and titles. Reverse: Zoroastrian fire-altar with two attendants, crescents and pellets above, to right mintmark AS ("uncertain site in Khorasan"). This coin: Pars Coins Bargain eSale 15, lot 52 (February 22, 2024).

(historical section contains reused text)
Yazdegard I (399-420 AD) was the son of Shapur III (383-388) and brother of Vahram IV (388-399). His three immediate predecessors had all been killed by high-ranking nobility (which still included many of the Parthian noble families, nearly two centuries after the last Parthian king died) and conflict with the nobles would continue in his reign as well. He also came into conflict with the Zoroastrian priesthood for his considerable toleration of both Christians and Jews in his realm; indeed, some sources call him "the sinner", though Christians and Jews referred to him as a new Cyrus the Great, and Yazdegard himself took the title Ramshahr, "peacemaker in [his] realm". Yazdegard maintained good relations with the Eastern Roman Empire, and was declared a guardian of Arcadius' young son, the future Theodosius II. He died around 420 in the northeast (in the traditional homeland of the Parthians), probably murdered by the nobility although accounts differ. We do know that the nobles tried to prevent Yazdegard's sons from taking the throne, but one of them, Vahram V, with help from an Arab army was able to succeed his father.

This is a rather nice example, there's very little wear (though there is a flat area on the reverse around the rightmost attendant's head, probably caused during striking by insufficient metal to completely fill the die). Not much else to say, just a nice, attractive coin that only cost $41. Please post your coins of Yazdegard I, or whatever else is related.

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Here is an example from the AWH Ahwaz Mint:


Yazdgard I, 399-420, AWH Ahwaz Mint 4.08 gm; 29 mm.  From Frank Robinson auction 121, lot 423

The above is a cellphone picture.  I will attach two auction photos to show how difficult these are to photograph:

4043677_1681984162.jpg.f2171cd236a95179ac8a930e23c4fd72.jpgsame coin! S011LG.jpg.4d66974f98b21943c498dc9df31c4593.jpgsame coin!

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Posted (edited)

That's a nice one. Just noticed this thread. I don't have any Sassanid coins, closest I come is a 2nd century piece of Vima Kadphises in India which has both Greek and Kharosthi on the coin. Admittedly, it has very little to do with the Sassanian empire. Probably should branch out. With regard to fire altars, Ammianus Marcellinus' digression on Mesopotamia says that fountains of flaming bitumen are sometimes encountered in that land, referring to a natural phenomenon where oil seeps have ignited either through lightning or some other natural process. According to my late professor of Iranian Archaeology at Berkeley, David Stronach, these naturally occurring springs may have been the motivation for fire altars in religion given the apparent spiritual significance.

Edited by Ancient Coin Hunter
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