The reform included introduction of a new weight standard for dirhams.
Persian dirhams in the period after the conquest had been struck according to the late Sasanian weight standard, about 4 g, which was identified by the new Arab rulers of Persia as the of the western caliphate, the standard for the gold coinage of the time, first the Byzantine solidus (ca.
The first coins of pure gold and pure silver are believed to have been produced at the same mint. 8), but Darius did introduce certain reforms (Bivar, pp. For example, a papyrus document from Egypt dating from the 5th century B. The siglos was also struck in thirds, fourths, sixths, and twelfths (Hill, p. Initially, it was probably in use primarily in Lydia itself (although gold darics were found in a 6th century deposit at Persepolis). The Arsacids did not mint gold coins, except perhaps as ceremonial medallions. It is said to have involved five craftsmen: one who “poured” the coin, one who “struck” it, one who “cut” it, one who “sealed” it, and one who “cleaned” it (Hommel, pp. These successive processes are quite similar to those known to have been involved in minting coins under the Safavids (907-1145/1501-1732; see below). 400); in addition, one Sasanian seal in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, bears an image of a mint master wearing an unusual hat and holding a balance, with an anvil, a hammer, and a die at hand (Göbl, 1971 , p. As in the Achaemenid period, most of the coins minted by the Sasanians were used for the payment and provisioning of troops, as is clear from the vastly increased production during periods of war. Ḵosrow II (590-628) even boasted of the annual inventory of his treasury and the fact that the number of s had doubled more than once during his reign (Göbl, 1971, p. Between the reigns of Šāpūr II (307-79) and Bahrām V (420-38) tributary rulers were not allowed to mint coins (Burns, pp. By the time of Ḵosrow II the practice of “hubbing,” in which duplicate dies, usually cast or punched from a single master die, were sent from the court to each operating mint, had been adopted; he was reported to have had new dies made in the thirteenth and thirtieth years of his reign (Ṭabarī, I, pp. From about 29/650 to 50/670 all these issues continued to bear the name of a Sasanian emperor, usually Ḵosrow II, the last emperor to have struck coins in quantity, and abbreviated mint names in Pahlavi.
They carry the confronted foreparts of a lion (left) and a bull on the obverse and two square incuse punches on the reverse, a symbolism generally associated with Persia. Others, however, accept the traditional view that the gold coins at least may have been introduced earlier, during the reign of the Lydian king Croesus because of several references in ancient Greek texts to the gold “Croesus stater” (Carradice, pp. In the 5th and 4th centuries the use of coinage spread to the east, though transactions continued also to be made in gold or silver bullion, the weight determined by notions of the value of the commodities involved. Their most important coin was the silver drachma, based on the Attic standard and weighing about 4 g, which remained virtually unchanged throughout the Parthian period. The Sasanian mints were probably under the jurisdiction of the , p. A minority have the name of the last emperor, Yazdegerd III (632-51); they are either the earliest issues under the Arabs or later imitations of uncertain origin, with the inclusion of Yazdegerd’s name and his last regnal year for presumably nostalgic reasons.
Ašʿaṯ, q.v., against Ḥajjāj in 81/701), coins of Sasanian type continued to be issued at certain mints in Fārs, Kermān, and Sīstān, but by 84/703 these mints had either been closed down or converted to production of the new dirhams.
Furthermore, before modern times the Persian economy consisted of a conglomeration of regional economies, each with a mint and a currency system geared to local commerce, rather than an integrated national economy. E.) an early form of the Parthian script was introduced for names and titles, at first only in abbreviated form (Ghirshman, p. As each Sasanian ruler had one or more distinctive crowns (Lukonin, p. On the reverse one of three variant types of the Zoroastrian fire altar with flames is depicted: plain, flanked by two attendants, or flanked by two attendants and with a bust in the flames. 236; idem, 1984), but they apparently became obligatory only under Bahrām IV (388-99).The Achaemenid rulers, for example, customarily had precious metals melted down and poured into jars; the molds were subsequently broken and the bullion stored. At first the satraps and city governors also minted coins in both gold and silver, some bearing Greek letters next to the Achaemenid archer on the obverse (Hill, pp. At any given time the number of mints in actual operation was smaller.As a result, although tax levies were expressed in monetary units, actual payments were usually in kind (Dandamayev and Lukonin, p. Equally, at Darius’ palace at Persepolis the workmen were paid in kind: “Sheep and beer are the equivalent, one sheep for three shekels, one jug for one shekel” (Olmstead, p. Officials were also often paid with claims on the produce of land, rather than in currency (Dandamayev and Lukonin, pp. From a tablet found at Persepolis it is clear that already during the reign of Xerxes I (486-65 B. E.) one-third of the wages were accounted for “in cash” and toward the end of his reign two-thirds (Ghirshman, pp. After 55/675 most of the Persian coinage was struck in the territories subject to Baṣra, that is, eastern and southern Persia; indeed, more than half the total coinage was probably issued in Fārs, with Kermān and Sīstān accounting for much of the rest.For this reason it is more sensible to study changes in the output (weight, fineness) of a single mint over time, rather than trying to arrive at an estimation of a nonexistent national norm. Sometimes, in fact, the standard of value used in everyday calculations was not embodied in actual coins at all. At first there seems to have been only one Achaemenid imperial mint, at Sardis (Bivar, p. 116), this element is often useful in identifying rulers depicted in other media (Göbl, pp. The ruler’s titles were inscribed in Middle Persian epigraphic script (Lukonin, p. Each type occurs with many variations in detail (Göbl, pp. About 100 Sasanian mint marks are known, though, as they are generally in abbreviated form, many have not yet been identified; some are variants or homonyms for single mints (Göbl, 1971, pp. At any one time the number of active mints must have been much lower than 100.As the output from local mints and the “exchange rates” often differed sharply from region to region, the standard monetary unit thus functioned primarily as a unit of reckoning (Ederer, p. It is important to distinguish in the historical sources between real circulating coinage and “ghost money” of this kind. He had refined gold to the last perfection of purity in order to have coins struck of it.” The minting of the gold daric continued until the conquest of the empire by Alexander in 331 and perhaps also under his authority (Carradice, p. The daric weighed 8.4 g (= 1 shekel) and was 98 percent pure gold. The darics and sigloi were trade coins, which enjoyed great prestige everywhere and were often imitated in weight, purity, and even design. 619), though many of the imperial coins bear counterstrikes, probably by local bankers (Burns, p. Many were in operation for only short periods, to serve the army, for example (Göbl, , pp.
), standardized units of metal used as a medium of exchange, first introduced into Persia by the Achaemenid Darius I (521-486 B. E.) Coins differ from earlier media of exchange in that they are usually uniform in weight and purity of the metal and are recognized by the state as valid currency for discharge of tax and other financial obligations.