THE COLLECTION
RESOURCES
SASANIAN EMPIRE

Vahrām (Bahram) IV
AD 388-399


                AR Drachm (4.00 g, 25mm, 3).

      Mint: AS (Asuristan).
      Struck: Uncertain.
      Obv: Diademed bust right, wearing winged mural crown with
                korymbos and inner ribbon; MZDYSN BGY WLHL'N ZY
                MLKAN(in Pahlavi = "The Mazda-worshipper, the
                devine Vahrām,the king of") around.
      Rev: Fire altar with ribbons; flanked by two attendants,
                each wearing winged mural crown with korymbos; AS (mint
                signature) to right of flames, blundered legends at sides,
                RASTY (in Pahlavi = "Just") on altar shaft.
      Ref: SNS-PBW type Ia2/3 (pl. 36, 23); Sunrise -; Paruck 289 var.
                (mint to left of flames); Saeedi 224 var. (same).
      Pedig: Ex Malter XXXII (30 November 1985), lot 168.


Yazdgird (Yazdgard) III
AD 632-651


                AR Drachm (3.91 g, 32mm, 9).

      Mint: BBA mint ("Court").
      Struck: Dated RY 20 (AD 651).
      Obv: Diademed bust right, wearing mural crown with frontal
                crescent, two wings, and star set on crescent; ribbon
                on left shoulder, crescent and ribbon on right; stars
                flanking crown; YZDKRT GDH 'PZWTY (in Pahlavi =
                "Yazdgird, may his glory increase") around.
      Rev: Fire altar with ribbons; flanked by two attendants,
                each wearing mural crown with korymbos; 20 (date in
                Pahlavi) on left, BBA (mint signature in Pahlavi) on right.
      Ref: Tyler-Smith Type 11/3, 147 (O138/R139); Göbl
                type I/1; Mochiri -; Sunrise -; Paruck -; Saeedi 313.
      Pedig:Ex Classical Numismatic Group Electronic Auction
                343 (28 January 2015), lot 315.

Notes: Our understanding of the coinage of the reign of Yazdgird III remains mostly obscured today, mostly due to the circumstances of the Arab conquest of the Sasanian lands, and their own reuse of Sasanian coins in their conquered territory. Many researchers consider that most of the coinage of Yazdgird are actually Arab imitations, possibly after the Battle of al-Qādisiyyah, and almost certainly after the Battle of Nahavand in 642, since the king was constantly retreating thereafter. While this might seem to be the case, there is evidence that even after the defeat at Nahavand, there were periods of semi-stability for the Sasanians, where Yazdgird would have had time to continue the operations of his government. Also, regardless of the personal situation of the king, his ministers certainly would have continued to perform their duties, and issuing coinage would have been necessary for at least some functions of the administration of the remnants of the empire. As far as evidence of official Sasanian issues among the coins themselves, Tyler-Smith noted that the issues of the BBA mint had a fixed die axis during all of the years leading up to the king's final year, 20. Then, at some point in year 20, the die axis became random, and at the same time, there was a change in the style of the engraving. This change of die axis and style could suggest a point at which the king was killed, and the mint ceased to be Sasanian issues, becoming another mint of the conquering Arabs. Regardless, we know that coins marked BBA were Arab issues at some point, particularly since there are issues of the mint dated to years after Yazdgird died. The present coin is from the period before the change to random die axes, thus it may represent the final issue of Yazdgird III.