Sasanika Varia

Note on Administrative Bulla of the Caucasus

The bulla in question belongs to the accountant / tax collector (āmārgar) of the Caucasus. Rika Gyeslen (2007) has recently published eight of these bulla with this accountant with one or two other minor seal impression, giving the sense that perhaps the owners of the commodity in which the bulla was placed on were not so wealthy. However, there is one bulla which is with multiple seal impressions which suggest a much larger transaction having taken place (Gyselen 2007: 170).1 Our bulla in question is 1.5 x 1.5 in diameter, with one minor impression of a stag at 9 o’clock and with holes on the back which shows traces of strings having been gone through it.

The reading by Gyselen is almost complete, but there is one toponym that is left (Gyselen 2007: 168):

In the field:

  1. b’c’h’y
  2. W ’lmny
  3. ’m’lkl

On the margin the legend she reads: štly ZY mwd’n/myd’n W kwsty ZY ’twlp’tkn. Thus, her reading is as follows: Bāzāhā (?) ud Armin Šahr-ī-Mūgān ud Kust-ī-Ādurbādagān for the margin, and Bāzāhā (?) ud Armin āmārgar: “Āmārgar of Bāzāhā and Armin (and) Šahr ī Mugān and Kust-ī-Ādurbādagān,” with the center: “Āmārgar of Bāzāhā and Armin.”

We would like to offer the following suggestion for the first toponym in the center field (b’c’h’y / Bāzāhā). In order to do this it is important to look at the second (known) toponym, i.e., ’lmny / armin, “Armenia.” Armenia was an important province which was constantly being contested by the Armenians and the Sasanians. As to its importance, the trade route through the Caucasus, and the number of forces which could be mustered from Armenia, made the region important to the king of kings. Furthermore, the region appears to have had important natural resources, if we consider another recent bullae (Gyselen 2002: 79): ’lmny W ’ld’n W wlwc’n W syskn W mlcy ZY nyswny and at the center: ’lmny W ’ld’n W wlwc’n with the office of zarrbed, hence: “The Chief Gilder of Armenia, Ardān and Wirōžān and Sīsagān and the border of Nēsawān.” 2

While some of these toponyms are also unclear, what is clear is that they are all from the Caucasus region, extending from Georgia (Wirōžān) to the Caspian Sea region. In the list of these two bullae we thus have the following toponyms:

Bāzāhā; Armin; Šahr-ī-Mūgān; Ardān; Wirōžān; Sīsagān; Nēsawān

At first glance, most of the known centers in the Caucasus from the Sasanian period is mentioned. However, Bāzāhā, is not a known cite, nor mentioned in any primary sources.3


Gyselen, Saeedeeh Collection, Acta Iranica, E.J. Brill, 2008.


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