Dinar of the Fatimid dynasty
Egypt, AD 970
The coin shown here was minted by the Fatimid dynasty (969-1171). They ruled Syria and Egypt, and North Africa as far west as Tunisia, from the city of al-Qahira (Cairo).
Coinage was used by rulers as a means for self-promotion and early Islamic coins had a standard design. Quotations from the Koran were inscribed in Arabic using the Kufic script. The mint, the caliph's name and the date in the Islamic Calendar were also given. African states adopted this layout, adding subtle indications to characterise their coins.
The coin shown here indicates a break from this standard design by the Fatimid dynasty. As Shi'ites, they were theologically and politically opposed to the Sunni rule of the Abbasids in Baghdad. Some of their coins mirror this conflict in their revolutionary design of concentric circles with inscriptions referring to their Shi'a beliefs, and in replacing the central traditional inscriptions with ones of their own.
J. Williams (ed.), Money: a history (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)