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Drachm of Shapur I

241-272
1 1/16 x 1/8 in. (2.7 x 0.3 cm)

Unknown, Sassanian


Object Type: Numismatics
Medium and Support: Silver
Credit Line: Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Ralph Alexander
Accession Number: 1995.24
Location: Currently on view
Link to this object

A standard inscription inside the obverse border proclaims the king’s divine right to rule: “The Mazda worshipper, the divine Shapur, King of the Kings of Iran, heaven-descended of the Gods.”

[Gallery label text, 2009]

The Sassanian Empire, founded by Shapur’s father Ardashir in 224 A.D., was ruled from Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq) until the Arab invasion of 636. Also called the New Persian Empire, it stretched in its heyday from Spain to India, just south of the Roman Empire, with which it constantly fought. The beautifully designed and executed coins minted by the highly civilized Sassanid dynasty follow the Roman formula, with the ruler’s profile on the front, but the details of the crown, hairstyle, and shaped beard are absolutely Persian.

[Gallery label text, 1995]

Provenance
Dr. and Mrs. Ralph Alexander, Rochester, NY; their gift to the Gallery in 1995

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