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Aramaic Traces through Coins in the Iranian World

1Šafiʿī, I
1MA (Ancient Iranian Languages and Culture, University of Tehran) Independent Researcher allahseeker@gmail.com
Shodoznavstvo 2018, 82:125-166
Section: Source Studies
Language: English

Aramaic language(s) in its four phases with different scripts on various materials have been found in Iran (mostly from the western part of the land where Aramaic-speaking communities lived). Aramaic language traces in the Iranian world have remained in a large diversity on the coins. Besides some reigns whose coins bear Aramaic phrases, some others just minted coins with Aramaic derived legends and/or used ideograms on their coins. Almost from 3th BC to 10th centuries AD Aramaic words with Aramaic, Pah-lavi, Parthian, Sogdian and Chorasmian legends used as ideograms in the coinage. Due to producing ideograms, it is impossible to read the original pronunciation of the words but this heritage can introduce а concept of a larger Aramaic presence in the Iranian world.
The earliest type of ideograms on the coins can be found on Fratarkā’s coinage in the Pārs province roughly from 3th BC and the latest belongs to Būyids’ amir of the 10th century, Rokn al-Dawla, who ruled in Rayy (al-Muḥammadiya). During this period, circa 1300 years, some dynasties struck their own coins with ideograms in a large territory from the Middle East to Transoxania and another one also used these coins in their daily deals as a currency.
<MLKA> “king”, <GDE> “splendor” and <BRE> “son” have been used more than other words. Besides the kings, some local rulers, especially from Transoxania, started to mint coins with their titles, with the most frequency of <MRAY> “ruler”. One can find a rare use of <MLKTA> “queen” as a feminine title in Sāsānid kingdom. Using Aramaic ideograms on the Arab-Sāsānids’ coins has the most variety and according to coins’ inscriptions, they used different words and phrases, mostly translated from Arabic to Pahlavi.

Keywords: Ancient Iran, Aramaic language, ideograms, Iranian world, numismatics

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