What does the gold dinar of Samarkand stored in the Hermitage testify to?‌‌

Numismatic artefacts from the collection of the State Hermitage Museum, minted on the territory of present-day Uzbekistan in the 8th – 15th centuries, are quite numerous and diverse in composition and theme.

 They cover, without any significant lacunae, the entire period of the history of the region in question, in many ways supplementing other exhibits, and sometimes being the only “living historical evidence” preserved in the Museum collection. The entire material presented in the catalogue can conditionally be divided into several thematic blocks, replacing each other in chronological order.

The first block includes late The Bukhar Khuda issues – both silver and copper. The latter have long been ascribed to the Paykend coinage, but in the late 1990s were re-attributed. One of the most interesting coins of this block is a dirham bearing the title “Khaqan the Great”, apparently issued by the Qarlughid khaqan during his stay in Samarkand.

The second block consists of the conventional Islamic type coins of two large dynasties – the Abbasids and The Samanids. In this group, special attention is drawn to the gold dinar of Samarkand, attributable, if one strictly follows the monetary protocol, to the Abbasid emission. However, de facto specimens of this type were minted by the Samanid ruler Isma‘il I, who at the beginning of his reign did not dare to put his name on them.

At the end of the 10th century, when the once powerful Samanid Empire was on the brink of total collapse, the first major Qarakhanid invasion of Mavarannakhr took place. Their issues constitute the next thematic block.

In 380 (990 – 991), Harun (Hasan) Bughra Khan captured Isfijab, and in 382 (992 – 993), the Samanid capital Bukhara, as evidenced by among other things the gold dinar from the collection of the State Hermitage Museum. The 13th century was marked by the Mongol conquest of Central Asia, which was accompanied by the destruction and devastation of cities. The fourth thematic block covers the emissions of Chingiz Khan, his descendants – the The Juchids and The The Chaghatayids, as well as the local The Sufid dynasty, which ruled in Khwarazm in the 1360 – 70s.

Golden coins of this period, stored in the collection of the State Hermitage Museum, are unique artefacts of Central Asian numismatics belonging to the era of Mongol domination. The last block is devoted to numismatic objects of the Timurid epoch. It contains gold, silver and copper emissions, starting with the early issues of Timur himself on behalf of the “puppet” The Chaghatayid overlords Suyurghatmish and Mahmud, and ending with the late 15th century coinage of Baysunghur and Zahir al-Din Babur. Of course, the genuine masterpieces of this subsection are the gold dinar fractions, minted under Timur and Suyurghatmish in Khwarazm and Samarkand, as well as the heavy silver dinar of Samarkand from 783 (1381 – 1382).

You can learn more about the topic in the book-album "Collection of the State Hermitage Mavarannakhr Art 8th – 15th centuries" (XV volume) from the series "Cultural Legacy of Uzbekistan in the World Collections".

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