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Ruler: Sassanian Persia: Shapur I
Reigned: 240 AD - 271 AD
Denomination: AR Drachm
Obverse: Bust of King, right. Tiara, with 4 turrets, cap of silk cloth (covering hair and large Orymbos) and attached earflaps all decorated with pearls. Curled locks of hair and tip of beard tied with ribbon, holding gemstones. Gemstone necklace. Decorated border of Cape on nape of neck and shoulders held in front by a jewel clip. “MZDISN BGI SHHPUHRJ MLKAN MLKA AIRAN, MNUCTRI MN IZDAN” (Defender of the Faith - Mazdayasna, Shahpur, King of Kings of Airan, of celestial Aryan origins).
Reverse: Fire altar with attendant on each side.
Weight: 4.5 gms
Diameter: 24.5 mm
Comment: "Orymbos" was the King's hair which had been twisted and wrapped into a round shape.

Shapur I

  • Shapur I was the second ruler of the Sassanian dynasty in Persia, founded by his father, Ardashir, who defeated the Parthians in 224.
  • He consolidated his empire by conquering the Kushans in India as well as Bactria and entering Samarkand and Tashkent.
  • He now made to the recover the provinces of the Persian Empire, now occupied by the Romans.
  • During Gordian III’s reign' in 240, he captured the city of Hatra.
  • In 241 Shapur continued the assault on Roman territory, but he was defeated in 243 by a Roman army under Timesitheus, Gordian’s praetorian commander, at Rhesaina in northern Mesopotamia. During the campaign, Timesitheus fell ill and died and was replaced by Marcus lulius Philippus, known as Philip the Arab, who became Emperor in early 244 after a mutiny. Philip made terms with Shapur. These terms were widely believed to be dishonourable to the Romans.
  • In 252, during the reign of Trebonianus Gallus, Shapur overran the entire province of Syria, with it's major Roman city of Antioch.
  • In 253, Publius Licinius Valerianus (Valerian I), became emperor of Rome. In 254, he set out to retrieve the lost provinces. he was to remain in the east for the rest of his life. In the early summer of 260 his army was decimated by plague and besieged by the Persians at Edessa. The emperor attempted negotiation, but foolishly acceded to Shapur's demands to meet him in person, accompanied by only a small retinue. When they arrived Shapur seized the entire party, including Valerian, his praetorian commander and other high-ranking officials and senators. Valerian was kept as a slave, forced to crouch down so that Shapur could step on his back when mounting his horse. When he died, his skin was removed, dyed with vermilion, and placed in a Persian temple where it could he shown to visiting Roman delegations.
  • While Valerian's successor, Gallienus, was busy dealing with would-be usurpers, Shapur once more went on the offensive. He was checked by Ballista, whom Valerian had appointed commander of the praetorian guard, and then by Odaenathus of Palmyra, acting as an ally of Rome.
  • Shapur died in 272 AD. During his lifetime he had commissioned the translation of numerous Greek and Indian works dealing with subjects as medicine, astronomy and philosophy.

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