|Distribution of Sasanian finds of the fifth to seventh centuries AD found outside of the boundaries of the late sixth-century Sasanian Empire, along with a depiction of the empire during the late sixth century. For a larger version of this map, click here. Note, the map is based on the sources listed in fn. 1 and is not exhaustive; rather, it is intended to offer an impression of the wide distribution of fifth- to seventh-century Sasanian objects across Eurasia and Africa. Image: C. R. Green.|
Britain and the west
The degree to which the Sasanian Empire was aware of the existence of Britain is uncertain: whilst an inscription of the third century AD refers to Spain and a number of other provinces of the Roman Empire, the earliest surviving reference to Britain from this region belongs to the ninth century AD, as was discussed in a previous post. Nonetheless, in recent years a number of Late Sasanian coins have been recorded from this island that sixth-century authors described as lying 'virtually at the end of the world towards the west and north-west' (Gildas, De Excidio Britanniae, §3, c. AD 500–540). Two of these coins have been published and discussed in print previously:
- A Sasanian coin of Khosrow I, minted in AD 565/6 at Susa in modern Iran and found at Winchelsea, East Sussex, in 1930.(2)
- A Sasanian coin of Khosrow II, minted in c. AD 628 at Weh-Andiyok-Shapur (Gundeshapur, Iran) and found on the coast of the Island of Anglesey, Wales, in 2001.(3)
A further four Late Sasanian coins can now be added to this list that were either missed in the original catalogue or discovered after it was published:
- A seventh-century Sasanian coin, presumably of Khosrow II (590–628), found at Beverley, East Yorkshire, in 1982.(4)
- A sixth- or seventh-century Sasanian coin found at Barford, Warwickshire, in 1994.(5)
- A Sasanian coin of Khosrow II, 590–628, minted at Ram Hormuz in southwestern Iran and found at Thamesfield, London; it was recorded by the PAS in 2017.(6)
- A Sasanian coin of Khosrow II, probably minted c. AD 618 at either Veh-Kavat or Veh-Ardashir (both in modern Iraq); possibly, although not certainly, found in the East Midlands in or before 2009.(7)
|A Sasanian coin of Khosrow II, 590–628, found on the coast of the Island of Anglesey, Wales, in 2001 (image: PAS, CC BY 2.0, kindly modified by Yngve Karlsson).|
With regard to the presence of these sixth- to seventh-century Sasanian coins in Britain, several points can be made. First, there seems little obvious reason to assume that they are all modern losses by careless antiquarian coin collectors. As has been observed in earlier posts, 'the proverbial absent-minded college don or cathedral canon, dropping items of his collection here, there and everywhere... has never seemed a very convincing character' (as Martin Biddle memorably put it), and the nature and circumstances of the finds under consideration here supports this.(8) Not only have these Sasanian coins all been found in widely distant locales, but they have also been discovered over an extensive period of time—1930 to 2017—yet appear to have been all minted near-contemporaneously too (in the later sixth to early seventh centuries), circumstances which arguably better fit with these coins being genuinely ancient losses and imports arriving due to a specific set of circumstances, rather than random modern losses or hoaxes. Indeed, a useful comparison might be made with the increasingly large quantity of sixth- to early seventh-century Byzantine coins now known from Britain, which were once viewed with hyper-scepticism by some but are now generally accepted as genuine imports to early medieval Britain.(9) Furthermore, potential Sasanian imports to early medieval Britain are not, in fact, limited to these coins alone, but also include a small number of Sasanian engraved gems which have been found in excavated Anglo-Saxon graves, something that is obviously of considerable interest and relevance in the present context.(10)
Second, with regard to the mechanism by which these coins might have arrived in Britain, Gareth Williams has suggested that they could have travelled alongside the above-mentioned Byzantine coins from North Africa and the eastern Mediterranean that are found in sixth- to seventh-century Britain.(11) Such a scenario would undoubtedly make a great deal of sense. There are, after all, clear connections between the Sasanian Empire's western neighbour, the Byzantine Empire, and both western Britain and Anglo-Saxon England in this era. For example, not only are significant numbers of early Byzantine coins found across the island, but there is also a considerable quantity of eastern Mediterranean pottery known from sites in the west, and isotopic and textual evidence moreover indicates that people who probably grew up in Byzantine North Africa were living and dying in seventh-century South Wales, Northumbria, East Anglia and Kent too.(12) The material in western Britain has long been seen as resulting from direct maritime contact with the eastern Mediterranean and that in the east can probably be at least partly seen in this light too, with finds of late sixth- to early seventh-century Byzantine coins from the Anglo-Saxon royal site of Rendlesham, Suffolk, having recently been interpreted as evidence for 'direct mercantile contacts' with the Byzantine world by Chris Scull et al.(13) As such, it seems perfectly credible that the Sasanian coins could have travelled directly to Britain alongside Byzantine imports, especially in light of the fact that Sasanian silks and gems were definitely imported into the Byzantine Empire and Sasanian coins are recorded from at least parts of the Byzantine Levant.(14) Indeed, it is worth noting that the Levant, parts of Anatolia and Egypt were all actually briefly under Sasanian control for a period in the early seventh century, something that may be of relevance here, especially given that, for example, the seventh-century Byzantine Life of St John the Almsgiver tells of a ship from Alexandria that visited Britain around that time and exchanged a cargo of corn for one of tin.(15)
|A Sasanian coin of Khosrow II, 590–628, minted at Ram Hormuz in southwestern Iran and found at Thamesfield, London; it was recorded by the PAS in 2017 (image: PAS, CC BY 2.0).|
Looking south and east: Sasanian artefacts in Africa and East Asia
If the distribution of fifth- to seventh-century Sasanian extended to the north-western edge of the then-known world, it also reached equally far in the other directions. In East Africa, for example, Sasanian beads and pottery occur down the east coast from Ras Hafun, Somalia, to Kivinja, Tanzania (a site radiocarbon dated to the fifth to sixth centuries AD), and then on to Chibuene, southern Mozambique. The probably seventh-century Persian glass beads found on this last site are associated with a small amount of Sasanian pottery of the type found at Ras Hafun and are believed to attest to pre-Islamic direct trade links via the Persian Gulf that stretched right down into the south of Africa. Needless to say, this is particularly intriguing, especially as Chibuene is around 1,900km further south along the coast than the southernmost East African sites that have produced fifth- to seventh-century Byzantine artefacts! Even more interestingly, it also now appears that these beads, made with glass produced somewhere in the region east of the Euphrates, were subsequently traded inland from Chibuene, with three sites in Botswana now known to produce them, including Nqoma in far western Botswana, 1,500km from Chibuene and closer to the south-western coast of Africa than the east.(16) It is worth noting, incidentally, that Nqoma is not the only part of western Africa receiving Sasanian beads around this time—further north yet more beads manufactured east of the Euphrates are found in fifth- to seventh-century graves at Kissi, Burkina Faso, although these beads are thought to have arrived via a different route, through the Saharan Garamantian kingdom along with early Byzantine artefacts exported from the Mediterranean.(17)
Looking eastwards of the Sasanian Empire, the situation is equally interesting. As might be expected, there are significant quantities of Sasanian coins known from Central Asian Sogdiana, which bordered the Sasanian Empire in the north-east. However, there are also large numbers of Late Sasanian coins known from China too which almost certainly arrived there via Sogdiana and the Silk Road. The Sui–Tang period tombs of Astana (Xinjiang, China), for example, contain a significant number of these coins, which are notably more common than Byzantine pieces there, and Sasanian coins and glassware are additionally found at a significant number of sites further east too, as can be seen on the map included above—indeed, over 1,300 coins of Khosrow II alone have been found in China according to a recent survey.(18) In addition to these finds in the north, a number of sites in Guangdong in the south of China have also produced fifth- to seventh-century Sasanian coins, which presumably reflects maritime trade along the southern 'Silk Road of the sea' rather than the land route, an extension of the connections that brought Sasanian torpedo jars, seals and coins to India, Sri Lanka and even Thailand.(19) There is certainly documentary evidence for Persian activity and maritime trading in and around India, Sri Lanka and China in the Late Sasanian era and immediately after, and it has recently been suggested that this activity may well have extended as far as Korea and Japan in the fifth to seventh centuries. Thus not only is at least some Sasanian glass present in the late fifth- to early sixth-century AD royal tombs at Silla, South Korea, but a notable quantity of fifth- to seventh-century Sasanian glassware is also known from several sites in Japan, including Nara, Kyoto and Osaka. For example, the tomb of the 27th Emperor of Japan, Emperor Ankan, who died c. AD 536, contained a complete cut-glass Sasanian bowl of the fifth or sixth century, whilst the late fifth-century tomb 126 at Nara contained a blue glass Roman dish that had been painted in Sasanian Persia before being transported on to Japan. Although certainty is difficult, Seth Priestman has argued that these and other Persian finds in Japan are best seen as resulting from direct maritime contact with the Sasanian Empire, rather than indirect contact via the overland Silk Road, and in this light it is at the very least intriguing to note that documentary evidence has recently emerged of a Persian official or teacher living in eighth-century Japan.(20)
|A repaired complete Sasanian glass bowl excavated from the sixth-century AD tumulus of Emperor Ankan in Osaka, Japan (image: Wikimedia Commons).|
|A selection of beads found at Kissi, Burkina Faso. Carnelian beads like those shown here were found in the fifth- to seventh-century grave 10 at Kissi 3 and are believed to have been manufactured in the Byzantine Near East/Egypt; chemical analysis of the glass beads indicates that they were made using glass from the Near and Middle East, with the majority being made within the Sasanian Empire. (Image: B. Voss/Afriques, CC)|
1. The following sources were used for areas other than Britain when putting together the map included here; it should, incidentally, be noted that Sasanian coins found in association with Islamic coinage—as all finds in Scandinavia, for example, seem to be—are not mapped here as they are believed to represent post-Sasanian trade. Map sources: I. Smirnov (ed.), Vostochnoe Serebro (St Petersburg, 1909); F. E. Day, 'Silks of the Near East', Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 9.4 (1950), 108–17; J. P. Oleson, 'An unpublished Sassanian seal, with a comment on the deportation of Armenians to Cyprus in AD 578', Levant, 8 (1976), 161–4; J. A. Lerner, 'Sasanian seals in the Department of Medieval and Later Antiquities of the British Museum', Journal of Near Eastern Studies, 35 (1976), 183–7; P. O. Harper & P. Meyers, Silver Vessels of the Sasanian Period. Volume One: Royal Imagery (New York, 1981); H. M. Malek, 'A survey of research on Sasanian numismatics', The Numismatic Chronicle, 153 (1993), 227–69; P. Urbańczyk (ed.), Origins of Central Europe (Warsaw, 1997); E.A. Smagulov, 'Finds of Sasanian gems in the Otrar Oasis', Ancient Civilizations from Scythia to Siberia, 3.2 (1997), 253–9; J. K. Skaff, 'The Sasanian and Arab-Sasanian silver coins from Turfan: their relationship to international trade and the local economy', Asia Major, 11.2 (1998), 67–115; S. D. Sears & D. T. Ariel, 'Finds of Late Sasanian and Early Muslim drachms in historical Palestine', ‘Atiqot, 40 (2000), 139–50; A. M. Maeir, 'Sassanica Varia Palaestiniensia: a Sassanian seal from T. Iṣtaba, Israel, and other Sassanian objects from the Southern Levant', Iranica Antiqua, 35 (2000), 159–83; M. Compareti, 'The Sasanians in Africa', Transoxiana, 4 (2002), online at http://www.transoxiana.org/0104/sasanians.html; T. Daryaee, 'The Persian Gulf trade in Late Antiquity', Journal of World History, 14 (2003), 1–16; R. K. Kovalev, 'Commerce and caravan routes along the Northern Silk Road (sixth-ninth centuries) – Part I: the western sector', Archivum Eurasiae Medii Aevi, 14 (2005), 55–105; S. Li, 'The distribution and significance of Sassanid silver currency in China', Chinese Archaeology, 6 (2006), 190–4; M-L. Chen, 'The importation of Byzantine and Sasanian glass into China during the fourth to sixth centuries', in A. Harris (ed.), Incipient Gobalization? Long-Distance Contacts in the Sixth Century (Oxford, 2006), pp. 47–52; R. Tomber, 'Rome and Mesopotamia – importers into India in the first millennium AD', Antiquity, 81 (2007), 972–88; B. Borell, 'The early Byzantine lamp from Pong Tuk', Journal of the Siam Society, 96 (2008), 1–26; S. Magnavita, 'Sahelian crossroads: some aspects on the Iron Age sites of Kissi, Burkina Faso', in S. Magnavita et al (eds.), Crossroads / Carrefour Sahel: Cultural and Technological Developments in First Millennium BC/AD West Africa (Frankfurt, 2009), pp. 79–104; N. Schindel, Sylloge Nummorum Sasanidarum Israel (Wien, 2009); F. Curta & A. Gândilă, 'Hoards and hoarding patterns in the Early Byzantine Balkans', Dumbarton Oaks Papers, 65–66 (2011–2012), 45–111; T. Power, The Red Sea from Byzantium to the Caliphate: AD 500–1000 (Oxford, 2012); M. Wood et al, 'The glass of Chibuene, Mozambique: new insights into early Indian Ocean trade', The South African Archaeological Bulletin, 67 (2012), 59–74; S .Liu et al, 'Silk Road glass in Xinjiang, China: chemical compositional analysis and interpretation using a high-resolution portable XRF spectrometer', Journal of Archaeological Science, 39 (2012), 2128–42; G. I. Bijovsky, Gold Coin and Small Change: Monetary Circulation in Fifth-Seventh Century Byzantine Palestine (Trieste, 2012); J. Spier, Byzantium and the West: Jewelry in the First Millennium (London, 2012); L. Baratova & N. Schindel, Sylloge Nummorum Sasanidarum Usbekistan (Wien, 2012); A. Giumlía-Mair, 'Metallurgy and technology of the Hunnic gold hoard from Nagyszéksós', The Silk Road, 11 (2013), 12–35; E. Petac & A. Ionescu, 'Some Sassanian silver coins discovered at Axiopolis (Cernavoda, Constanta County, Romania)', Iranica Antiqua, 48 (2013), 355–60; S. Lee & D. P. Leidy, Silla: Korea's Golden Kingdom (New York, 2013); M. Kazanski, 'The Middle Dnieper area in the seventh century: an archaeological survey', in C. Zuckerman (ed.), Constructing the Seventh Century (Paris, 2013), pp. 769–864; N. Boivin et al, 'East Africa and Madagascar in the Indian Ocean world', Journal of World Prehistory, 26 (2013), 213–81; T. Gesztelyi, 'Sasanian seals in Hungarian collections', Acta Classica Universitatis Scientiarum Debreceniensis, 50 (2014), 179–83; J. Denbow et al, 'The glass beads of Kaitshaa: new insights on early Indian Ocean trade into the far interior of southern Africa', Antiquity, 89 (2015), 1–17; M. Wood, 'Divergent patterns in Indian Ocean trade to East Africa and southern Africa between the 7th and 17th centuries CE: the glass bead evidence', Afriques, 6 (2015), online at http://afriques.revues.org/1782; J. Then-Obluska, 'Cross-cultural bead encounters at the Red Sea port site of Berenike, Egypt. Preliminary assessment (seasons 2009 - 2012)', Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean, 24 (2015), 735–77 at p. 764; M. Gasparini, 'Sino-Iranian textile patterns in Trans-Himalayan areas', The Silk Road, 14 (2016), 84–96. The depiction of the Sasanian Empire in the late sixth century is based on P. Sluglett & A. Currie, Atlas of Islamic History (Routledge: London, 2014), pp. 13–15, maps 1 and 2.
2. R. Abdy & G. Williams, 'A catalogue of hoards and single finds from the British Isles c. AD 410–675', in B. J. Cook & G. Williams (eds.), Coinage and History in the North Sea World, c. AD 500–1250: Essays in Honour of Marion Archibald (Leiden, 2006), pp. 11–74 at p. 57.
3. Portable Antiquities Scheme, LVPL2174; R. Abdy & G. Williams, 'A catalogue of hoards and single finds from the British Isles c. AD 410–675', in B. J. Cook & G. Williams (eds.), Coinage and History in the North Sea World, c. AD 500–1250: Essays in Honour of Marion Archibald (Leiden, 2006), pp. 11–74 at p. 57. Information on the mint site kindly provided by Yngve Karlsson.
4. M. P. T. Didsbury, Aspects of Late Iron Age and Romano-British Settlement in the Lower Hull Valley (University of Durham PhD thesis, 1990), vol. 2, p. 15 (dated broadly fifth to seventh century); Humber Historic Environment Record, 8734 (dated to the seventh century).
5. Warwickshire Historic Environment Record, MWA9909.
6. Portable Antiquities Scheme, LON-B2F5CF.
7. Portable Antiquities Scheme, LEIC-BF6164. Note, this coin was discovered for purchase at a car boot sale in the Leicester area and no firm details are known of its find circumstances; as such, it needs to be used only very cautiously.
8. Quotation from M. Biddle, 'Ptolemaic coins from Winchester', Antiquity, 49 (1975), 213–15.
9. See, for example, S. Moorhead, 'Early Byzantine copper coins found in Britain – a review in light of new finds recorded with the Portable Antiquities Scheme', in O. Tekin (ed.), Ancient History, Numismatics and Epigraphy in the Mediterranean World (Istanbul, 2009), pp. 263–74; C. Morrisson, 'Byzantine coins in early medieval Britain: a Byzantinist's assessment', in R. Naismith et al (ed.), Early Medieval Monetary History: Studies in Memory of Mark Blackburn (London, 2014), pp. 207–42; E. S. Georganteli, 'Byzantine coins', in M. Biddle (ed.), The Winchester Mint and Coins and Related Finds from the Excavations of 1961-71, Winchester Studies 8 (Oxford, 2012), pp. 669–78; G. Williams, 'Anglo-Saxon gold coinage, part 1: the transition from Roman to Anglo-Saxon coinage', British Numismatic Journal, 80 (2010), 51–75; C. Scull et al, 'Social and economic complexity in early medieval England: a central place complex of the East Anglian kingdom at Rendlesham, Suffolk', Antiquity, 90 (2016), 1594-1612.
10. J. Spier, 'Late Antique and Early Christian gems: some unpublished examples', in C. Entwistle & N. Adams (eds.), ‘Gems of Heaven’: Recent Research on Engraved Gemstones in Late Antiquity, c. AD 200–600 (London, 2011), pp. 193–207 at p. 199 ('A small number of... engraved Sasanian gems, have been found in other Anglo-Saxon graves, a notable indication of the great distance such prized objects could travel.'); J. Spier, Late Antique and Early Christian Gems (Wiesbaden, 2007), p. 87 (identifies the gems from Sibertswold, Kent, grave 172, and Alfriston, Sussex, grave 28, as Sasanian originals). See also P. W. Rogers, Costume in the Early Anglo-Saxon Cemetery at Saltwood, Kent: Part 1, Women's Costume Accessories (2014), finds report, available online here, p. 30; H. Geake, The Use of Grave-Goods in Conversion-Period England, c.600–c.850 (Oxford, 1997), p. 39.
11. G. Williams, 'Anglo-Saxon gold coinage, part 1: the transition from Roman to Anglo-Saxon coinage', British Numismatic Journal, 80 (2010), 51–75 at p. 58. An alternative scenario might be to associate them with the Viking impact on Britain in the ninth century, as Sasanian coins are found alongside later Arab-Sasanian coins and Islamic dirhams in Viking-era hoards in Scandinavia (see, for example, R. K. Kovalev, 'When and what regions of the Islamic world exported Sasanian and Arab-Sasanian silver coins to early Viking-Age Northern Lands?', in T. Talvio & M. Wijk (eds.), Myntstudier (Stockholm, 2015), pp. 68–83); however, Gareth Williams does not do this and it is important to note that the distribution of Sasanian coins from Britain catalogued here does not match well with that of Islamic dirhams in Britain thought to have been imported during the Viking-era, as mapped in C. R. Green, 'The distribution of Islamic dirhams in Anglo-Saxon England', 16 December 2014, blog post, online at http://www.caitlingreen.org/2014/12/distribution-of-islamic-dirhams-in-england.html., nor do any of the known Viking-era hoards of dirhams found in Britain contain Sasanian coins. As such, it is not adopted or pursued in the present post.
12. On the coins, see the references cited in fn. 9; references for the imported Byzantine pottery can be found in fn. 13, below. The isotopic results are discussed and summarized in C. R. Green, 'Some oxygen isotope evidence for long-distance migration to Britain from North Africa & southern Iberia, c.1100 BC–AD 800', 24 October 2015, blog post, online at http://www.caitlingreen.org/2015/10/oxygen-isotope-evidence.html and C. R. Green, 'A note on the evidence for African migrants in Britain from the Bronze Age to the medieval period', 23 May 2016, blog post, online at http://www.caitlingreen.org/2016/05/a-note-on-evidence-for-african-migrants.html. The results discussed and analysed in these posts were published in K. A. Hemer et al, 'Evidence of early medieval trade and migration between Wales and the Mediterranean Sea region', Journal of Archaeological Science, 40 (2013), 2352–59; S. Lucy et al, 'The burial of a princess? The later seventh-century cemetery at Westﬁeld Farm, Ely', Antiquity, 89 (2009), 81–141; S. E. Groves et al, 'Mobility histories of 7th–9th century AD people buried at early medieval Bamburgh, Northumberland, England', American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 151 (2013), 462–76; and J. A. Evans et al, 'A summary of strontium and oxygen isotope variation in archaeological human tooth enamel excavated from Britain', Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry, 27 (2012), 754–64 and 'Supplementary Material I' (14 pp.). The textual evidence relates to the early eighth-century Historia Ecclesiastica IV.1, where Bede describes Hadrian, the later seventh- and eighth-century Abbot of St Augustine's, Canterbury, as 'a man of African race' (HE IV.1). Hadrian is thought to have grown up in Libya Cyrenaica before the mid-seventh-century Arab conquest of North Africa: B Bischoff & M. Lapidge, Biblical Commentaries from the Canterbury School of Theodore and Hadrian (Cambridge, 1994), especially p. 92.
13. For eastern Britain and East Anglia, see C. Scull et al, 'Social and economic complexity in early medieval England: a central place complex of the East Anglian kingdom at Rendlesham, Suffolk', Antiquity, 90 (2016), 1594-1612; for western Britain and Byzantine imported pottery, see for example M. Fulford, 'Byzantium and Britain: a Mediterranean perspective on post-Roman Mediterranean imports in western Britain and Ireland', Medieval Archaeology, 33 (1989), 1–6; E. Campbell, Continental and Mediterranean Imports to Atlantic Britain and Ireland, AD 400–800, Council for British Archaeology Research Report 157 (York, 2007); E. Campbell & C. Bowles, 'Byzantine trade to the edge of the world: Mediterranean pottery imports to Atlantic Britain in the 6th century', in M. M. Mango (ed.), Byzantine Trade, 4th-12th Centuries: The Archaeology of Local, Regional and International Exchange (Farnham, 2009), pp. 297–314; and T. M. Charles-Edwards, Wales and the Britons, 350–1064 (Oxford, 2013), pp. 222–3. On Byzantine–British connections, we can also note, for example, the Penmachno Stone from North Wales, which has recently been persuasively interpreted as a late sixth-century monument declaring continuing British loyalty to the Byzantine Emperor Justin II: T. M. Charles-Edwards, Wales and the Britons, 350–1064 (Oxford, 2013), pp. 234–8.
14. For example, Procopius in the mid-sixth century mentioned that the Romans of the eastern empire (now usually termed the Byzantine Empire) 'buy silk from the Persians', although few potential examples now survive of these silk imports: see H. B. Feltham, 'Justinian and the international silk trade', Sino-Platonic Papers, 194 (2009), pp. 1–40; M. Compareti, 'The Sasanians in Africa', Transoxiana, 4 (2002), online at http://www.transoxiana.org/0104/sasanians.html; F. E. Day, 'Silks of the Near East', Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 9.4 (1950), 108–17; N. Oikonomides, 'Silk trade and production in Byzantium from the sixth to the ninth century: the seals of kommerkiarioi', Dumbarton Oaks Papers, 40 (1986), 35–53. On gems, coins and other Sasanian artefacts in the Byzantine Empire, see for example J. P. Oleson, 'An unpublished Sassanian seal, with a comment on the deportation of Armenians to Cyprus in AD 578', Levant, 8 (1976), 161–4; J. A. Lerner, 'Sasanian seals in the Department of Medieval and Later Antiquities of the British Museum', Journal of Near Eastern Studies, 35 (1976), 183–7; S. D. Sears & D. T. Ariel, 'Finds of Late Sasanian and Early Muslim drachms in historical Palestine', ‘Atiqot, 40 (2000), 139–50; A. M. Maeir, 'Sassanica Varia Palaestiniensia: a Sassanian seal from T. Iṣtaba, Israel, and other Sassanian objects from the Southern Levant', Iranica Antiqua, 35 (2000), 159–83; N. Schindel, Sylloge Nummorum Sasanidarum Israel (Wien, 2009).
15. Leontius, Life of St John the Almsgiver, chapter 10; C. A. Snyder, An Age of Tyrants: Britain and the Britons, AD 400–600 (Stroud, 1998), p. 152; C. J. Salter, 'Early tin extraction in the south-west of England: a resource for Mediterranean metalworkers of late antiquity', in M. M. Mango (ed.), Byzantine Trade, 4th–12th Centuries: The Archaeology of Local, Regional and International Exchange (Farnham, 2009), pp. 315–22 at p. 320; M. M. Mango, 'Tracking Byzantine silver and copper metalware, 4th–12th centuries', in Mango (ed.), Byzantine Trade, 4th–12th Centuries, pp. 221–36 at p. 223.
16. On Late Antique trade down the East African coast, see especially N. Boivin et al, 'East Africa and Madagascar in the Indian Ocean world', Journal of World Prehistory, 26 (2013), 213–81 at pp. 244–5, for a good, recent summary. On Chibuene and Persian beads traded into Botswana, see M. Wood et al, 'The glass of Chibuene, Mozambique: new insights into early Indian Ocean trade', The South African Archaeological Bulletin, 67 (2012), 59–74; M. Wood, Interconnections: Glass beads and Trade in Southern and Eastern Africa and the Indian Ocean – 7th to 16th centuries AD (Uppsala, 2011); M. Wood, 'Eastern Africa and the Indian Ocean world in the first millennium CE: the glass bead evidence', in G. Campbell (ed.), Early Exchange between Africa and the Wider Indian Ocean World (Cham, 2016), pp. 173–94 at pp. 184–6; J. Denbow et al, 'The glass beads of Kaitshaa: new insights on early Indian Ocean trade into the far interior of southern Africa', Antiquity, 89 (2015), 1–17; M. Wood, 'Divergent patterns in Indian Ocean trade to East Africa and southern Africa between the 7th and 17th centuries CE: the glass bead evidence', Afriques, 6 (2015), online at http://afriques.revues.org/1782; A. M. Daggett, Early Iron Age Social and Economic Organization in Sowa Pan, Botswana (Michigan State University PhD Thesis, 2015), especially p. 322.
17. On the Sasanian beads of Sub-Saharan West Africa, see S. Magnavita, 'Sahelian crossroads: some aspects on the Iron Age sites of Kissi, Burkina Faso', in S. Magnavita et al (eds.), Crossroads / Carrefour Sahel: Cultural and Technological Developments in First Millennium BC/AD West Africa (Frankfurt, 2009), pp. 79–104, and S. Magnavita, 'Initial encounters: seeking traces of ancient trade connections between West Africa and the wider world', Afriques, 4 (2013), online at https://afriques.revues.org/1145.
18. See, for example, S. Li, 'The distribution and significance of Sassanid silver currency in China', Chinese Archaeology, 6 (2006), 190–4; M-L. Chen, 'The importation of Byzantine and Sasanian glass into China during the fourth to sixth centuries', in A. Harris (ed.), Incipient Gobalization? Long-Distance Contacts in the Sixth Century (Oxford, 2006), pp. 47–52; S .Liu et al, 'Silk Road glass in Xinjiang, China: chemical compositional analysis and interpretation using a high-resolution portable XRF spectrometer', Journal of Archaeological Science, 39 (2012), 2128–42; J. K. Skaff, 'The Sasanian and Arab-Sasanian silver coins from Turfan: their relationship to international trade and the local economy', Asia Major, 11.2 (1998), 67–115.
19. For finds in southern China, see for example Li, 'The distribution and significance of Sassanid silver currency in China'; R. C. Houston, 'A note on two coin hoards reported in Kao Ku', Museum Notes (American Numismatic Society), 20 (1975), 153–60; T. Daryaee, 'The Persian Gulf trade in Late Antiquity', Journal of World History, 14 (2003), 1–16; T. Daryaee, Sasanian Persia: The Rise and Fall of an Empire (London, 2009), pp. 138–9. Note, Daryaee, 'The Persian Gulf trade in Late Antiquity', p. 13, suggests the coastal finds in east China may also result from the maritime trade route, rather than the overland Silk Road, and notes the discovery of a potential Zoroastrian fire-temple in southern China (p. 14). For finds in India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand (at Yarang) and documentary references to Persian maritime trade across to China, see, for example, R. Tomber, 'Rome and Mesopotamia – importers into India in the first millennium AD', Antiquity, 81 (2007), 972–88; B. Borell, 'The early Byzantine lamp from Pong Tuk', Journal of the Siam Society, 96 (2008), 1–26 at pp. 9 and 11; D. Whitehouse & A. Williamson, 'Sasanian maritime trade', Iran, 11 (1973), 29–49; Daryaee, 'The Persian Gulf trade in Late Antiquity'; and S. Faller, 'The world according to Cosmas Indicopleustes – concepts and illustrations of an Alexandrian merchant and monk', Transcultural Studies, 1 (2011), online at http://heiup.uni-heidelberg.de/journals/index.php/transcultural/article/view/6127/2962, although see now R. R. Darley, '"Implicit cosmopolitanism" and the commercial role of ancient Lanka', in Z. Biedermann & A. Strathern (eds.), Sri Lanka at the Crossroads of History (London, 2017), pp. 44-65, on the disputed character of Sri Lankan finds of Sasanian coins and also on textual references to Persian activity on the island.
20. On the Korean finds, see C. Kwangshik, 'Silla art and the Silk Road', International Journal of Korean History, 19 (2014), 1–22 at p. 3; S. Lee & D. P. Leidy, Silla: Korea's Golden Kingdom (New York, 2013), p. 125. On the Japanese finds, see S. Priestman, 'The Silk Road or the sea? Sasanian and Islamic exports to Japan', Journal of Islamic Archaeology, 3 (2016), 1-35, who argues for these items having arrived via the sea rather than the overland Silk Road; there is also some discussion of these finds in the Encyclopædia Iranica, 'Japan XI: collections of Persian art in Japan' (2008), available online. The documentary evidence for a Persian official living in Japan was revealed in October 2016: 'Research uncovers evidence that ancient Japan was "more cosmopolitan" than previously thought', Japan Times, October 5 2016, online edition.
The content of this post and page, including any original illustrations, is Copyright © Caitlin R. Green, 2017, All Rights Reserved, and should not be used without permission.