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The Coin Galleries: Yueh-Chi: Sapalbizes

The Yueh-Chi were a nomadic tribe from southern China who were pushed further and further west by their rivals. Eventually, they made their way into Bactria and the surrounding areas.

The first identified Yueh-Chi prince has always been called Sapadbizes. However, as a close examination of the coins shows, the name should be Sapalbizes, not Sapadbizes. The fifth letter is a Λ, not a Δ. A discussion on the southasia-coins eGroup confirmed that all coins of this ruler do indeed read "Sapalbizes," except that reportedly there is one coin at the British Museum that carries a Δ. Perhaps it was this coin that first led numismatists (presumably in this case Major General Cunningham was the first) to name this prince Sapadbizes.

It is interesting to note that the name Sapalbizes is more in keeping with a line of Scythian names that are known from the coins: Spalirises, Spalagadames and Spalahores. The prefix "Spal" or "Sapal" connects the words to "the army."

Silver hemidrachm
c. 20 BCE

Weight:1.84 gm., Diam:15 mm., Die axis: 1h
Helmeted bust right, greek legend: CAΠAΛBIZHC /
Lion standing right, tamgha of hill & crescent above
Greek legend right and left: NANAIA
Ref:  MAC 2824.

Silver hemidrachm
c. 20 BCE

Weight:1.76 gm., Diam:15 mm., Die axis: 1h
Helmeted bust right, greek legend: CAΠAΛBIZHC /
Lion standing right, tamgha of hill & crescent above
Greek legend right and left: NANAIA
Ref:  MAC 2824.

Silver hemidrachm
c. 20 BCE

Weight:1.53 gm., Diam:15 mm., Die axis: 12h
Helmeted bust right, greek legend: CAΠAΛBIZHC /
Lion standing right, tamgha of hill & crescent above
Greek legend right and left: NANAIA
Ref:  MAC 2824.

Silver hemidrachm
c. 20 BCE

Weight:1.91 gm., Diam:15 mm., Die axis: 12h
Helmeted bust right, greek legend: CAΠAΛBIZHC /
Lion standing right, tamgha of hill & crescent above
Greek legend right and left: NANAIA
Ref:  MAC 2824.
A curious aspect of the depiction of the lion on the reverse, seen best on this coin but visible on all the others as well, is that the mouth is agape with tongue protruding (suggesting that the lion is roaring), but the tail is between the legs!

Silver obol
c. 20 BCE

Weight:0.51 gm., Diam:12 mm., Die axis: 12h
Helmeted bust right, greek legend: CAΠAΛBIZHC /
Lion standing right, tamgha of hill & crescent above
Greek legend right and left: NANAIA
Ref:  MAC 2829-30.

Silver obol
c. 20 BCE

Weight:0.50 gm., Diam:12 mm., Die axis: 12h
Helmeted bust right, greek legend: CAΠAΛBIZHC /
Lion standing right, tamgha of hill & crescent above
Greek legend right and left: NANAIA
Ref:  MAC 2829-30.

Copper chalkous
c. 20 BCE

Weight:1.95 gm., Diam:16 mm., Die axis: 1h
Helmeted bust right, greek legend: CAΠAΛBIZHC /
Lion standing right, tamgha of hill & crescent above
Greek legend right and left: NANAIA
Ref:  Rtveladze 19.
Copper coins of Sapalbizes are unlisted in Mitchiner, and are extremely rare.
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