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Research Coins: Feature Auction

CNG 87, Lot: 799. Estimate $300.
Sold for $1300. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

HUNNIC TRIBES, Hephthalites. Before AD 700. AR Drachm (32mm, 3.38 g, 3h). Imitating a Post-Yazdgerd year 37 dirhem from the AY mint. Crowned Sassanian style bust right; Sogdian tamgha and legend in margin / Fire altar with ribbons; flanked by two attendants; star and crescent flanking flames; date to left, mint name to right. Göbl, Dokumente -; CNG 60 (22 May 2002), 1092 (same dies). Good VF.

In AH 61, Salm bin Ziyad was appointed Governor of Khurasan by the Umayyad caliph Yazid I. Three years later, bin Ziyad was deposed and replaced by ‘Abd Allah bin Khazim. The new governor quickly threw in his lot with the rebel faction led by bin Zubayr, dragging Khurasan into internecine conflict. Meanwhile, the Hepthalites took advantage of Arab distraction and invaded the region. In such a fractured state, Khurasan could not resist the Huns, and the whole of the province fell under Hepthalite control for a brief period.

This coin was struck after the deposition of bin Ziyad, using the imitation of his reverse type, as opposed to the other issues bearing a Hunnic style reverse. These types are clear evidence that this and related imitations (cf. CNG 60, 1090-6) were all produced in the same Khorasanian locality, by the same Sogdian speaking peoples. The group minting these imitations was plainly impartial to whether the prototype was Sasanian (with Khusro II types), or Arab-Sasanian, imitating either ‘Abd Allah bin Khazim or Salm bin Ziyad. However, the omnipresence of the tamgha and Sogdian legends (in countermark or engraveur) indicates that an association with Sogdian Hephthalite groups is the most important factor in the coins' production and identity.