dinar-recaps From the period of the Roman Republic the word denarius was used for coinage in the east, whereas in Rome and the west aureus was used. The dinar was a gold coin, struck mainly for purposes of prestige, especially harking back to the Achaemenid tradition embodied in the gold daric. Monetary bi-metalism did not really exist among the various pre-Islamic dynasties. The Achaemenid empire remained until the end of the 5th century B.C.E. “a country without a proper currency” (Curiel and Schlumberger, pp. 16, 26), that is, a currency having a nominal value. The gold daric, introduced by Darius I (522-486 B.C.E.) and minted as a royal prerogative, was valued only as bullion, and the silver siglos circulated only in Greek cultural areas of Asia Minor. With the arrival of Alexander the Great, however, the situation changed; Alexander withdrew the older issues, in order to expand the use of silver coins, which until then had not been attested in any part of the Persian empire except Asia Minor.
There are no surviving gold pieces from the Parthian period. Dinars began to be issued only under the Sasanians. From the reign of Ardašīr I (224-40 C.E.) to that of Šāpūr III (383-88) their weight varied from 7 to 7.4 g. Like the silver derhams (q.v.), they bore on the obverse a bust of the crowned king facing right and on the reverse the fire altar flanked by two figures. Probably because it was primarily a ceremonial coin, the dinar is hardly attested in Iranian literary sources; nevertheless, in the trilingual inscription of Šāpūr I (240-70; ŠKZ, Parth. l. 4) it is mentioned that after the victory of the Sasanians at Misikhe (Pērōz-Šābuhr) the Romans had to pay the sum of 500,000 dinars (dynr, Gk. dinaríon) as ransom for the life of the emperor Philip the Arab and his family, a sum that Ernest Honigmann and André Maricq (p. 122) considered modest. Šāpūr struck dinars at Marv, including the mint name, which was unusual on gold coins. Under Šāpūr II (309-79), who often resided at Marv, the great proportion of dinars was minted in the Persian east, in order to pay for the costs of war (Gignoux, pp. 196-200).
Double dinars, introduced by Ardašīr, were struck only through the reign of Hormozd II (302-09). One-sixth dinars are attested from the reign of Bahrām II (274-93) through that of Kavād I (488-531). Already under Bahrām IV (388-99) the dinar of 7 g was no longer issued. Under Pērōz (459-84) it fell to 3.5 g, but it rose to 4.2 g under his successors. Bahrām IV introduced the minting of gold pieces of 4.54 g, corresponding to the Roman solidus and issued a 1.5-dinar piece. He and two of his successors, Yazdegerd I (399-420) and Yazdegerd II (438-57), also struck one-third dinars of 1.5 g. The dinar thus served as a trade commodity, sold by weight and fineness. The majority of kings minted dinars; a few did not, though the reasons are unknown. Legends on the dinars of Kavād I and Ḵosrow I (531-79) provide evidence that such issues marked accession to the throne.
Šāpūr I is supposed to have restruck Roman double dinars as drachmas, perhaps, as Robert Göbl has suggested (pp. 334), after the capture of Antioch, the principal mint city for the eastern Romans; such restriking would explain the generally poor quality of these coins. The dinars of the usurper Bahrām Čōbīn (r. 590-91) are of fine workmanship, though reflecting close dependence on Byzantine models.
Under Pērōz most dinars were struck at the mint at Balḵ, though some were also issued at Weh-Ardašīr. The abundance of dinars issued in eastern Persia can no doubt be explained by the preference of the great Kushans of Bactria for this gold coinage; in fact, they did not mint silver. Probably in the late 1st or early 2nd century C.E. Vima Kadphises, son of the first king, Kujula Kadphises, issued four series of gold coins to a weight standard based on the aureus of Augustus, and this monetary type persisted throughout the entire history of Kushan coinage. The inscriptions were in Greek and Indian (in kharoshthi script), then, beginning in the reign of the third king, in Bactrian (written in an alphabet derived from the Greek alphabet). Kushan numismatics is an independent field of study, largely dominated by the work of Göbl, D.W. MacDowall, and Helmut Humbach, as well as of a number of scholars in the former Soviet Union. The primary original feature of these coins is the image of a divinity on the reverse, as had already occurred among the Greco-Bactrian kings. Although only Shiva is represented on the coins of Vima Kadphises, those of third king, Kanishka, included a varied pantheon of about thirty gods of diverse origins. Under Vasudeva, however, Shiva alone was represented once again. After the conquest of Bactria by Šāpūr I in 265-69 (?) the Sasanian Kūšānšāhs carried on the regional tradition, issuing gold dinars imitating those of the last Kushan kings but with representations of fire altars and inscriptions that emphasized adherence to the Mazdean faith.
A large number of false dinars have been produced by modern forgers with images of the first Sasanian kings up to Bahrām IV.
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