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Sassanian - Ardashir I - 223 - 240 A.D. & Zoroastrian Fire Alter

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Registered: August 2005
Location: Arizona USA
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Founder of the Sassanian Empire. More to follow...
SASSANIAN EMPIRE. Ardashir I, A.D. 223-240. AR Drachm (4.25 gms, 25 mm), Ctesiphon Mint (?), ca. 233-239 A.D. Condition AU or almost FDC.
Göbl type III/2/2. Sun­rise 714 or Sunrise-713 (further research required). Diademed bust right wearing close-fitting globular crest headdress and korymbos; Reverse: Ornate fire altar with ribbons.
The Sassanian Empire encompassed modern-day Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Armenia, as well as portions of Syria and Turkey. To the Sassanian people, they were called "Eranshar"-- the "Iranian Empire."
Ardashir I or Ardeshir I (Ardaxšīr; New Persian: اردشیر بابکان, Ardashir-e Bābakān), also known as Ardashir the Unifier (180–242 AD), was the founder of the Sasanian Empire. After defeating the last Parthian shahanshah Artabanus V on the Hormozdgan plain in 224, he overthrew the Parthian dynasty and established the Sasanian dynasty. Afterwards, Ardashir called himself "shahanshah" (King of Kings)and began conquering the land that he called Iran.
There are various historical reports about Ardashir's lineage and ancestry. According to Al-Tabari's History of the Prophets and Kings, Ardashir was son of Papak, son of Sasan. Another narrative that exists in Kar-Namag i Ardashir i Pabagan and Ferdowsi's Shahnameh also states it says that Ardashir was born from the marriage of Sasan, a descendant of Darius III, with the daughter of Papak, a local governor in Pars. [Wikipedia]
The reverse of the Sassanian coins usually show the Zoroastrian Fire alter; for Ardashir I the alter or "ATAR" is show without attendants. See the Moneta Museum (Next Image) for an example of all later rulers that have two flanking attendants.
Atar (Avestan ātar) is the Zoroastrian concept of holy fire, sometimes described in abstract terms as "burning and unburning fire" or "visible and invisible fire" (Mirza, 1987:389). It is considered to be the visible presence of Ahura Mazda and his aša. The rituals for purifying a fire are performed 1,128 times a year.
In the Avestan language, ātar is an attribute of sources of heat and light, of which the nominative singular form is ātarš, source of Persian ātaš (fire). It is etymologically related to the Avestan āθrauuan / aθaurun (Vedic अथर्वन् atharvan), a type of priest. It was later copied by the Latin ater (black) and possibly a cognate of the Slavic vatra (fire).[1]
In later Zoroastrianism, ātar (Middle Persian: ādar or ādur) is iconographically conflated with fire itself, which in Middle Persian is ātaxsh, one of the primary objects of Zoroastrian symbolism.
My write up at follows:
Ardashir I, the founder of the Sasanid Empire, did so by extinguishing the Parthian Empire (247 BC – 224 AD) which figured so prominently in Roman history. In doing so Ardashir established a new and larger module of silver coinage that lasted through the Arab-Sasanian coin transition to the Umayyad style coinage of Abd al-Malik Bin Marwan (685 -705 AD) where only Arabic writing is present due to the prohibition of human or animal images. In establishing a new coinage for his newly minted empire, Ardashir increased the size and weight of the drachm and also created a subsidiary silver coinage. He maintained a copper coinage that conformed more to the previous Parthian types but he also established a gold coinage that the Parthians never had and that were larger and heavier than the contemporary Roman gold aurei. Here Ardashir wears a koryimbus and the legend around states "The Mazda worshipper, the divine Ardashir, the king of kings of Iran" in Pahlavi. I have to admit that what drew me to this series, beyond the important history, is the reverse design. Here we see a Zoroastrian fire altar (without flanking attendants as found on subsequent rulers' issues) and the legend "Fire of Ardashir" in Pahlavi script. The Fire Altar dominates the reverse of Sassanian coinage for the next 400 years, usually with flanking human attendants with the whole design becoming rather stylized in later years and copied in other nearby kingdoms. Zoroastrianism is a very important religion that is still practiced today and had a great influence on the development of early Christianity. AR Drachm (4.25 gms, 25 mm), Ctesiphon Mint (?), ca. 233-239 A.D.; Göbl type III/2/2. Sun­rise 713 or 714.
In 230 AD, Ardashir I invaded the Roman province of Syria, and threatened Armenia and Cappadocia, forcing the young emperor, Severus Alexander, who earlier had tried to prevent war by diplomatic means, to fight. The two armies met in 232 AD, in a battle in which both sides sustained such heavy losses that each was compelled to withdraw. Although not a victory, the removal of the Roman forces allowed Ardashir to consolidate his new holdings in Armenia. Upon his death in 240 AD, Ardashir had established a new and significant threat in the Roman east.
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Keywords: Sassanian Ardashir I 223 - 240 A.D.
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