HEPHTHALITE (“White Huns) Kashmir Smast series quarter drachm


HEPHTHALITE, Northern Pakistan, Kashmir Smast series, quarter drachm, no date (possibly 7th-8th centuries AD), Obverse: standing king, Reverse: Ardoksho seated, crudely rectangular planchet, copper, 12x14mm, 1.37g, sim. Zem-5, VF

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Around the turn of the millennium, or a bit later, someone wandered into a cave in northern Pakistan and found a large stash of tiny copper coins that had not been seen before. Many had designs based on bronze types that that been used in the region in the past several centuries, from the Hephthalites back to the Indo-Greeks. They have been written about in the Journal of the Oriental Numismatic Society. They are generally referred to as the Kasmir-Smast series.

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.