Diameter: 2.200 mm
Weight: 2.500 g
CM BMC OR 3 no. 207
Room 34: The Islamic world
Dirham of Kai Khosrau II
Seljuq dynasty, AH 639 / AD 1241-42
Struck at Sivas (in modern Turkey)
The Seljuq dynasty of Anatolia (1081-1307), also known as the Seljuqs of Rum, were a branch of the Great Seljuqs, based at their capital at Konya (modern Turkey). They minted coins predominantly in copper and in silver. Silver had been in short supply during the preceeding 150 years, but the Seljuq dynasty could rely on silver mines in Anatolia. The coins of the Seljuq sultan Kai Khosrau II (reigned 1237-46) are characterized by the adoption of the symbol of the lion and sun, together an astrological symbol for the sign Leo. It is an image that continues to be used sporadically on Islamic coins and was adopted by the Qajar dynasty of Iran (1794-1925) as their national symbol.
The Rum Seljuqs also adopted ancient Persian names: Kai Khosrau was a Sasanian king of Iran in pre-Islamic times. His legendary exploits are described in the national epic of Iran, the Shahnama ('Book of Kings') written by the poet Firdausi (about 940-1020).
M. Broome, A handbook of Islamic coins (London, 1985)
V. Curtis, Persian myths (London, The British Museum Press, 1993)