Central Asia in the Early Middle Ages,
Coins of the regions


Chach Coins  --> Table 123
Even if the first Chach coins – a walking lion, a "pitchfork-like" symbol and a Sogdian legend {Table 123} – were identified almost 40 years ago [Smirnova, 1951. pp. 39-43; 1958. pp. 251-253; 1961. pp. 130-134] among the coins at Pendzhikent (having in mind also the finds at Aktepe near Tashkent, Munchaktepe near Begovata, etc.), their study is far from over. The wide and systematic investigation at the archaeological sites along the middle course of Sir Darja (Kanka, Kendiktepe, Khanabadtepe, Junusabadskoe Aktepe, Mingurjuk, etc.) led to a sharp increase in the number of coin finds. Nowadays the accumulation of material continues, systematised (especially thanks to E.V. Rtveladze), localised, etc.

It was known since long ago that the early medieval silver circulation in Chach was served by drachmas of the "Bukharkhudat" type [Masson M., 1955a]. As shown by Davidovich [Davidovich, 1979, p. 106, 115] such coins were also minted at Chach (the "first type" in her classification). The further advances in the study of the Chach silver of the "Bukharkhudat" type depend critically on the accumulation of new finds. These coins are identified only by a combination of secondary iconographic details and do not differ from the "Bukharkhudat" coins of the other centres in neither their legend, nor the images, nor the additional elements. The additional inscriptions in Arabia and Sogdian which appeared on the "Bukharkhudat" coins of Samarkand and Bukhara in the second quarter of the VIII c. have not been found on the Chach issues which probably is connected with the different political status of the regions on the middle course of Sir Darja – with their weaker dependence on the Arab deputies in Khorasan and Maverannakhr. The lack of such additional legends complicates the study and the establishing of a relative and absolute chronology of the Chach issues of the "Bukharkhudat" drachmas. The start of the Chach "Bukharkhudat" silvers was apparently not earlier than the second half of the VII c. (later than in Samarkand) and continued until the first quarter of the IX c., when the metal, exchange and "terminological" differences between the musajbi, mukhammadi and gitrifi dirhams, all derived from the "Bukharkhudat" silver, were formed [Davidovich, 1966. p. 119-125], or a little bit later.

The earliest copper issues of Chach are the coins {Table 123} depicting a ruler looking to the left (most rarely – to the right) on the obverse, and a particular variety of tamga and a Sogdian legend, in which Livshic could only read "Lord" – MRY’ [Arkheologija SSSR, 1985. Table CXLIX, 15; Brikina, 1982. p. 89, Fig. 60] on the reverse. More than 1500 early Chach coins are currently known (including a large hoard from the ruins of Kanka, the finds at Kendiktepe, etc.), which are very different in their weight (between 0.15-0.2 and 3 g), in the degree of stylisation of the images, etc, but still obviously representing a single typological group. There are no good reasons to lower the date of their appearance to the III c. [Arkheologija SSSR, 1985. p. 303]. The characteristic tamga (on the reverse) copies exactly the tamga with which starts the Sogdian inscription on the dish from Kerchev [Smirnov, 1909. Table XXV, 53] which mentions the "Chach lord" [Livshic, Lukonin, 1964. pp. 170-172; Livshic, 1979. p. 57]. The dish itself depicting the Sassanian Kushanshakh Varakhran II [Lukonin, 1967. Fig. 1. pp. 25-26, 31] is dated o the last decade of the IV or the beginning of the V c., but its Sogdian inscription (as well as the tamga) was obviously made later, after the dish had reached Chach. The attempt to regard the dish as a work of the "local touretics" needs much serious arguments that the situated in Chach silver mines [Burjakov, 1987. p. 36] - the dish was made following the Sassanian traditions and, not doubt, by a Sassanian master, and not in "Bactria or Sogdia" [Pugachenkova, 1981a; compare Burjakov, 19987, p. 36] in general but in the Sassanian Kushashakhr. Thus the terminus post quem for the early Chach coins is set to not earlier than the V c. But this does not exclude later dates in the VI or the early part of the VII c.: the coins, judging from their great numbers and typological variety (series of different ages, with clear signs of a continuous accumulation of deviations from the initial type, schematisations, etc.) they were issued for a long time and their substitution by other types of Chach coins happened as late as in the VII c. There are not reasons to assume there were hiatuses in the Chach mints, between the early series and the issues of the VII-VIII cc.

The early medieval Chach coins of the VII-VIII cc. Are divides, as shown by Rtveladze [Rtveladze, 1982. p. 181 etc.] into several local types, issued by the rulers of the "feudal possessions" within Chach.

Of the proper Chach type are the coins with a characteristic "pitchfork-like" symbol on the reverse [Smirnova, 1981. pp. 371-393; Rtveladze, 1982. pp. 32-34 - "the first group"], and an image or a bust of the rulers, or a lion with risen paw {Table 123, 1, 8} The Sogdian legend (on the reverse) gives the title of the ruler - "Lord" (xw..w), sometimes accompanied by the epithet "of Chach" (ccnk), and also his name. In total, according to the classification of Rtveladze there are six rulers, whose relative chronology still needs clarifications. The group is dated to the VII c. - the first half of the VIII c.

The distinguishing feature of the second group of early medieval Chach coins is the complicated five-pointed tamga on the reverse {Table 123, 2, 5, 19???}. It occurs together with four different obverses: two faces [Rtveladze, 1982. Fig. 1, 8]; a sitting ruler [Livshic, Rtveladze, 1982. pp. 181-187]; a horse looking to the right [Rtveladze, 1982. Fig. 1, 10]. This group was apparently issued in Kabarna, one of the towns of Chach, corresponding according to Ju.F. Burjakov [Burjakov, 1975. p. 86] to the ruins of Kavardan.

The third group in the classification of Rtveladze [Rtveladze, 1982. Fig. 1, 11-13] comprises coins with a tamga on the reverse {Table 123} typologically derived from the "Bukhara tamga" or the schematic representation of fire altars on the coins of the Bukhara Sogd [comp. Zejmal', 1979. Table V, 5-11]. The proposed localisation of this groups is the Chach town of Farankat (or Afarinkat), identified with the ruins of Ishkurgan near the modern Parkent [Burjakov, 1975. pp. 99-100], but for now the coins of this type are known only from finds in Kanka and Benket.

The fourth group [Rtveladze, 1982. Fig. 1, 14, 15] with an arc-like (with small tentacles) symbol-tamga on the reverse {Table 123, 3??} has been identified as belonging to Kanka (with a 3/4 facing to the right image of a ruler shown to the chest).

It is still unclear where was the centre of production of the other two groups: the fifth one, with symbol on the reverse {Table 123} [Rtveladze, 1982. Fig. 1, 16], and the sixth one, with two faces on the obverse and a complicated tamga on the reverse {Table 123, 9, 12, 15, 21, 23} in combination with a Sogdian legend [Rtveladze, 1982. Fig. 1, 7-21].

Judging from the numismatic data, there were at least six possessions with a certain degree of autonomy in early medieval Chach [Rtveladze, 1982. p. 38], and the rulers of these possessions bore the same title - "Lord" (xw..). Neither the coins themselves, nor other sources, including the document A-14 from the Archive of Mug [Livshic, 1985. pp. 246-247] mention who was the sovereign of these rulers, who had the supreme political authority in the early medieval Chach, which, there are generally no doubts, was under the political influence (and control) of the Turkic khaganate.

The coin circulation in Chach in the VII-VIII c. is very poorly studied - the types of coins (including the imported ones), the importance of the silver, etc. Until now there is no explanation for the predominant distribution beyond Chach (in Afrasiab, Kafirkala near Samarkand, Pendzhikent, etc.) of the Chach coins with the "pitchfork-like" symbol alone (the "first group"). The contacts between the Bukhara Sogd and Chach, which definitely shows typological similarities, have not been completely studied. It seems the coins of Chach were indeed formed under some influence from the Bukhara coins.

The numismatic data would be of decisive importance for clarifying the questions of the political history such as the expansions (or shrinking) of the area of political control of Chach and of the Khaganate during the complicated and changing situation in the second half of the VII c. - the first half of the VIII c. (the spread of its influence to Ustrushana, Khodzhent and the possessions of the Ferghana valley; the relations between Chach and Otrar, etc.) For now these question can be only formulated.

This, the anepigraphic coins from the ruins of Otrartobe and other sites of the Otrar oasis (a walking lion on the observe, a tamga on the reverse), belonging to the end of the VII c. [Burnasheva, 1975. p. 62] or a later period, show a clear typological dependency on the Chach coins, but no clear historical interpretations of these numismatic relations can be given.

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