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Byzantine solidus and its Islamic imitation

Byzantine solidus

  • Islamic imitation

    Islamic imitation


Diameter: 0.600 cm (solidus)
Weight: 4.370 g
Diameter: 0.600 cm (solidus)
Weight: 4.370 g

CM BMC (Walker II) 143;CM BMC (Byz) 324

Coins and Medals

    Byzantine solidus and its Islamic imitation

    Byzantine, AD 610-13, from Carthage
    Imitation: struck before AH 85 / AD 704

    Small heavy solidi were struck in the early seventh century by the Byzantines in Carthage. The example shown here shows the Byzantine emperor Heraclius (reigned AD 610-41) and his son, with a 'cross on steps' on the reverse (back) of the coin and with Latin inscriptions.

    A century later the Muslim rulers in North Africa made imitations of such coins but adapted them to make them more 'Islamic'. This example shows the Imperial busts with the shahada, the Islamic profession of faith, around the margin in Latin. On the reverse, the 'Cross Potent' has become a simple pole.

    In other Islamic adaptations of the solidus from Carthage, Latin legends referring to the Muslim creed are combined with Arabic ones.

    M. Broome, A handbook of Islamic coins (London, 1985)

    J. Walker, A catalogue of the Muhammada-1 (London, 1956)

    J. Williams (ed.), Money: a history (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)