TURKO-HEPHTHALITE, drachm, c.525-600 AD


TURKO-HEPHTHALITE, Eastern Iran, Sogdia, etc., drachm, no date (c.525-600 AD), Obverse: imitation of Sasanian Hormazd IV, countermarked on edge: tamgha, Reverse: fire altar with attendants, BHL (year) 11, silver, 32mm, 3.62g, MA1399v, countermarked tamgha obv. & FORO in cursive Greek rev., shallow obverse die, sketchy obverse countermark, aVF

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When the Hephthalites defeated the Sasanian Persians they collected a large indemnity in Sasanian silver coins, some of which they countermarked. Countermarking continued for more than a century, into the time of the Khanate of the Western Turks, the “west” meant in relation to Afghanistan. At a certain point people ran out of real Sasanian coins and started making imitations and countermarked them.

A wave of Turkish nomads swept out of Central Asia and displaced the Hephthalites in Afghanistan and the Sasanians in northeastern Iran. They formed the first of many Central Asian Turkish regimes.

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.