Iran-Sasanian 651 (year 20) 1 drachm

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Courtesy Steve Album

The Sasanian Empire rose in place of the failing Parthian Empire, founded by Ardashir I, a king of Persis. Under his son Shapur I, the empire grew to include Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, other parts of Central Asia, and the Gulf Coast of the Arabian Peninsula. Sasanian armies fought for centuries against the Romans, but were only conquered in the end by the Arabs in the 7th century. The official Sasanian religion was Zoroastrianism, and sacred fires are depicted on the reverse of most coins.

The specimen shown was lot 38 in Steve Album sale 16 (Santa Rosa, CA, May 2013), where it sold for US$5842.80. The catalog description reads[1]:
"SASANIAN KINGDOM: Yazdigerd III, 632-651, AR drachm, MY (Mishan), year 20, attractive strike, VF, RRR. Mishan, located in southern Iraq, had been conquered by the Arabs more than a decade before the regnal year 20 of Yazdigerd III (651 AD), and would not have officially struck Sasanian coins in that year. Thus this piece is either a local imiative issue, or the mint "MY" mint was no longer located at Mishan. The "Y" of the mint name is slightly curved to the lower right, and is conceivably a somewhat coarsely engraved "L" or "R". The letters "MR" applied to the city of Marw on both Sasanian and early Arab-Sasanian drachms (the latter dated YE20, 22 and 23). I would suggest that the actual mint was Marw, where the Arab armies captured and executed Yazdigerd in his 20th regnal year."

Recorded mintage: unknown.

Specification: 3.64g, copper.

Catalog reference: Tyler-Smith-163/164, G-235.


  • [1]Album, Stephen. Stephen Album Rare Coins - Auction 16. Santa Rosa, 2013. Stephen Album Rare Coins.
  • Gobl, Robert. Sasanian Numismatics. New York: 1971. Sanford J. Durnst.
  • Sayles, Wayne G. Ancient Coin Collecting VI - Non-Classical Cultures. Iola, WI, 1999. Krause Publications.

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