HEPHTHALITE (“White Huns”) GANDHARA quarter drachm circa 515-560 AD


HEPHTHALITE, GANDHARA, quarter drachm, no date (circa 515-560 AD), Obverse: bust R with bull crown, standard before, Reverse: fire altar, copper, 17mm, 1.03g, MA1541, very crude, rev., VF

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Gandhara the region around modern Kandahar. It was a major culture center in Kushan times. The Hephthalites generally wrecked everything and built on the ruins.

The Hephthalites were the eastern component of the people who, in Europe, were called “Huns.” They are sometimes referred to as “White Huns.” Some of the Hephthalite coins of Afghanistan-Pakistan region have the word “HONO” on them. On the other hand, there is a faction amongst the historians who claim that we really have no idea who any of those people were, let alone if they were related to each other. There seems to be a general feeling that the Huns, or the Hephthalites, or the people the Chinese called Xiong Nu, and other scholars called “Chionites,” were more Iranic than Turkic.

The earliest ancient Indian coins were the “bent bar” punchmarked silvers of the Achaemenid Persians occupying Gandhara in northwest Pakistan. By the 3rd century BC coins were in general use in most of India and Ceylon, and in subsequent centuries struck round coins in gold, silver, and copper came into use throughout the subcontinent and beyond to Southeast Asia and Pacific islands to Java and beyond.