Vahram (Bahram) I, Sasanian King AD 273-276
Sunrise # 754, SNS Type Ib/Ba, Superb Extremely Fine
Mint Location: Unknown.
Bahram was the eldest son of Shapur I and succeeded the throne after the death of his brother Hormizd I. It was during his reign that Palmyra under Queen Zenobia became a strong power. Palmyra (in Modern Syria) was geographically located between the Roman and Persian-Sasanian Empires. Zenobia’s power grew to the point that Aurelian, the Roman emperor, became alarmed and moved to crush the growing Palmyran kingdom. Zenobia requested assistance from Bahram I. The sources disagree as to what extend Bahram helped the besieged queen. Some sources state that Bahram send a force to help. Other sources suggest that the help was not nearly enough, as both Persia and Rome wanted the threat of growing power of Palmyra neutralized. Zenobia was defeated by Romans. She requested asylum from Bahram I. According to various sources, Bahram’s response was slow, allowing for Zenobia to be captured by the Romans. Bahram I finally ended the preaching of Mani by arresting and imprisoning him. According to some sources, Mani died in prison and according to others, he was executed at the order of Bahram I, who sided with the Zoroastrian priesthood. One of the most interesting features of the coinage of Bahram I is the use of a crown portraying radiating sun. The crown is inspired by the Persian Sun God Mithra, also spelled Mithras, Mithraism was a powerful religion which rivaled Christianity everywhere. The Roman military units established a brotherhood worshiping Mithra. The rituals were conducted in temples, the remains of which can still be seen in England, Germany, Spain, Iran and India. Mithraism is considered a mystery religion with initiations, special rites and degrees for their members. Since the early 70s, there are some scholars who deny the relationship between the Mithra cult as worshipped by Romans and Mithra as worshipped by Persians. The Statue of Liberty designed by Fredric Auguste Bartholdi and engineered by Gustav Eiffel wears a radiate crown which bears a great resemblance to the Mithraic crown of Bahram I. The radiate crown and the Phrygian cap (both Mithraic symbols) were used during the French Revolution and symbolized the struggle for freedom, mastery of one’s own destiny and self-governance.