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My First Sasanian? Coin - Help!

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I’m looking for a bit of help. I recently bought my first Sasanian coin… or maybe a later imitation of one. I’ve always wanted to include a selection of these coins in my collection, and learn about them. This coin is my first and I know nearly nothing about reading or attributing these coins. 

The only information that came with the coin is this: TABARISTAN SILVER HEMIDRACHM SA'ID 776-779 AD

The coin is 25mm, 1.84 grams.

I’m hoping to:

1.) Understand… is this a Sasanian Coin? A later Islamic imitation? 

2.) Confirm the attribution or attribute the coin (ruler, date, primary reference, etc.)

3.) Get any education on the legends (what they say, where’s the date?, is the ruler named?, where?)

4.) See your favorite eastern coins! Persian, Parthian, Sasanian, Islamic, or anything else cool that I’m not throwing my money at yet!

thank you!


Edited by Orange Julius
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The Sassanian Empire ended in 651. Tabaristan had been a sort of protectorate of the Sassanids but remained independent after the Arabs invaded until the Abbasids took over in 760. They continued to strike coins like the Sassanids. So this coin is in the style of the Sassanids rather than Sassanian or an imitation as such.

On a Sassanid coin you can tell the ruler by the crown style. The name is written sideways on the right next to the king. The mint name is in the same position to the right on the reverse. The date is to the left on the reverse.

Reading this script is very challenging. Usually the best I can do is find another coin with exactly the same writing (it has to be near exact) and the same style.

This coin looks like yours (with the same attribution) except with a different date.

Edited by John Conduitt
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Not Sasanid but Islamic: 'Abbasid governors of Tabaristan, Sa'id (ibn Da'laj), c. 776-778, AR hemidrachm (or 'Tabari' drachm), Tabaristan mint, dated year 125 of the post-Yazdegard era. Album 58.

This series represents a late continuation of the Arab-Sasanian coinage. The Arabs initially had no coinage of their own but following the conquests of Syria and Persia, imitated the existing Byzantine and Sasanian types until the end of the 7th century, when a purely Islamic coinage was introduced. In Tabaristan and a couple of other regions the imitative coinage lasted a bit longer. On your coin, the governor's name Sa'id (سعيد) in Arabic is to the right of the bust. The other legends are in Pahlavi (Persian) script. As suggested above, a shortcut to reading the dates is to simply match stroke-by-stroke with known examples (I used volume 1 of the Ashmolean Sylloge). Fortunately for us, Sa'id ruled only a few years!

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Congratulations on branching out into this realm!  As I understand it, squiggles outside of the obverse circles make a post-Sasanian attribution a giveaway.  Furthermore, the style and the denomination.

Reading the script is very difficult and I still have to beg for date-mint help when I get an unattributed one.

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This is a great field. Sassanian art is unappreciated. Here is Ardashir I the first Sassanian ruler and Shapur I, Rome's worst nightmare. These two are my favorite rulers. There are like 40ish Sassanian rulers, most common is Khosrow I, Khosrow II, Peroz I, and Hormizid IV. 





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I hope you're not having a thread on Sasanian coins without me...

First, one minor correction: 

10 hours ago, Nerosmyfavorite68 said:

As I understand it, squiggles outside of the obverse circles make a post-Sasanian attribution a giveaway.  

Not entirely true.  Some of Khusro II's drachms have the Persian word "AFID" (praise) in the 5 o'clock position.  (This inscription is also found in that position on Tabaristan coins, including the OP coin.)  Most Arab-Sasanian drachms have the Arabic "Bismillah" (in the name of God) in that position.

If you want to read the dates and mintmarks on Sasanian coins, check out the invaluable webpages on Forum, which are based on the late Tom Mallon's work:

https://www.forumancientcoins.com/numiswiki/view.asp?key=Sasanian Mints

https://www.forumancientcoins.com/numiswiki/view.asp?key=Sasanian Dates

I have a number of Sasanian coins, so I'll post just a couple of pieces.  First, the highlight of my Sasanian collection, a very rare drachm of Queen Boran (629-631):




An obol of the first Sasanian king, Ardashir I, struck while he was still a vassal to the Parthians, before he overthrew the last Parthian king to establish the Sasanian dynasty c.224:


And a popular type, a drachm of Varhran II (276-293) that shows the king, queen, and prince:




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These coins are have a special dating system, the "PYE" or Post-Yazdgard Era, where year 1 = 652/3 AD.

Luckily, Sa‘īd only governed for three years.  The page https://www.zeno.ru/showgallery.php?cat=5617 shows 18 examples of his coinage.  You should be able to find a match with a coin a that collector on Zeno has supplied the date PYE date for.  From their you may be able to calculate a 12-month period of issue for your example.


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