These sliver half drachms were minted in Tabaristan, a mountainous region nestled between the Alborz mountains and the Caspian Sea in northern Iran. The area was a self governing territory under the Islamic Abbasid Caliphate at the time, though the coins have heavy influence from the Sasanian Empire which followed Zoroastrianism. The obverse of these coins is styled to look like the Sasanian king Khosrow II, while the reverse shows a Zoroastrian fire altar.
Tabaristan was named after the Tapurians, who were relocated from Parthia by Phraates I. Under Sasanian rule, which began in the early 3rd century CE, the region enjoyed political autonomy.
The fall of the Sasanian empire in 651 marked the beginning of Islamic control over most regions. However, Tabaristan stood as an exception. The region fiercely maintained its independence, with Zoroastrian houses leading a guerilla resistance against Islamic forces. This resistance ensured that Tabaristan remained a Zoroastrian stronghold well into the 12th century, a unique feat considering the widespread Islamic influence in neighboring regions.
Another remarkable aspect of Tabaristan is its linguistic heritage. Unlike many regions that saw a fusion of languages due to invasions and migrations, Tabaristan's language remained untouched by external influences such as Arabic, Tatar, or Mongolian. This preservation can be attributed to the region's natural barriers. The dense forests, swamps, and the formidable Alborz mountain range made it a challenging terrain for invading armies, allowing Tabaristan to safeguard its cultural and linguistic identity.
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