Diameter: 1.700 cm
Weight: 11.590 g
CM 1972 11-9 2
Coins and Medals
Double dirham of Nuh b. Mansur
Samanid dynasty, about AD
From Kurat Badakhshan, Afghanistan
During the tenth century two dynasties ruling in the north-eastern provinces of Afghanistan, the Ghaznavids and the Samanids, produxed outsize dirhams. Produced alongside regular dirhams, dinars and copper fulus, they were made from low-grade silver and weighed about twelve grams. This example, issued by the Samanid ruler Nuh II (reigned AD 976-97) also bears the name of a local governor, al-Harath.
The silver they were minted from came principally from the mines of the Hindu Kush at Panjshir, north of Kabul. Muslim geographers describe the wealth of these mines and the evil and dissolute ways of its 6,000 miners. The miners are described as working in the bowels of the earth with torches 'and it was usual for one prospector to spend as much as 300,000 dirhams on the opening of a new shaft. Some became rich, others beggared themselves in the endeavour'. The parallel has been made with the American gold rush on the nineteenth century. The seams in the mines began to run out during the latter part of the tenth century, partly because of the drain on silver caused by the massive export of silver to the Viking lands.
N. Lowick, Islamic coins and trade in the (Variorum Publishers, 1990)
M. Mitchiner, The multiple dirhems of mediev (Hawkins Publishers, 1973)