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Research Coins: Feature Auction

Sale: CNG 61, Lot: 924. Estimate $250. 
Closing Date: Wednesday, 25 September 2002. 
Sold For $350. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

HUNS, Uncertain tribe. Successors of Shah Goboziko in Kabul. After 388 AD. AR Drachm (3.96 gm). Crudely written "Goboziko," crowned bust of king (imitating Varhran IV) / Fire altar with attendants; tamgha (bull's horn derived?) in margin. Göbl, Hunnen Em. 32A ("Iranisch-Hunnische Münzen", 1. Nachtrag IN: Iranica Antiqua, XVI, 1981). VF, light encrustation. ($250)

It is impossible to assign this coin to a specific cultural phase (i.e. period and tribal affiliation) at this moment. However, some art-historical comments can be made about the coin. Göbl believed that this piece and its forbears in Emission 32 were roughly contemporary to Varhran IV (388-399 AD), and potentially attached to the localized chieftains existing in the Kidarite realm. This Kidarite region was not an empire, and perhaps it is an exageration to call it a confederation, as the smaller cheiftaincies and principalities were largely autonomous. Although this assessment is a valid starting point, other factors must be brought into account. The style of this coin perhaps has more parallels in much later coinages. The reverse typology stylistically has a precedent in the reign of Peroz, 457/9-484 AD. The only exception to this rule is the configuration of four tamghas on the reverse, a trait which is first paralleled in the obverse ornamentation of the drachmae of Kavad, who reigned intermittently from 484-531 AD. The crudity of the obverse portrait also suggests that some time had elapsed between the reign of Varhran IV and his imitators, and the production of this coin. The tamghas observed on the reverse are also seen in later Alchon issues. Nevertheless, the bust style and heavily beaded border give the appearance of a prototypical Nezak issue, perhaps of the early 6th century, just preceeding the Napki Malka issues. The lack of strong Hunnic national identities in this time period can explain why this issue does not fit into any rigid attribution scheme.