Shapur II (Also known as “The Great”), Sasanian King AD 309-379

Sunrise # 838 (this coin), SNS type Ib1/2a, Saeedi AV 47., Superb Extremely Fine

Mint: Marv. Mint is noted on the reverse on the right side of fire alter base with the abbreviations of Pahlavi letters “MRWN”.


This gold dinar, preserved in superb condition, was minted in the City of Marv (in the modern Republic of Turkmenistan). Marv was the administrative capital of the eastern Sasanian empire. The city remained a thriving political, economic and intellectual center until its destruction at the hands of the Mongols in 13th century. The city recovered and repopulated a decade later as a new town next to the ruins of the ancient city. It was finally absorbed into the Russian Czarist and Soviet Empires. The Soviets staged most of their operations in Afghanistan from this city. The ancient ruins of the city, including its fortifications, remind us of its glorious past. One of the very interesting features of this coin is the return of the fire altar without attendants, which was first used on the coins of Ardashir I. The exact reason for the re-use of this symbol is unknown. More than likely it harks back to the glorious memory of the founder of the empire Ardashir I who made Zoroastrianism the official religion of the Sasanian state. Shapur’s commitment to strengthening the Zoroastrian religion against other religions, primarily Christianty, may likewise account for the re-introduction of this type.