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Fatimid dinar and a Crusader besant

Crusader besant

  • Fatimid dinar

    Fatimid dinar

 

Diameter: 2.200 cm (BMC IV, 175)
Weight: 3.130 g
Diameter: 2.200 cm (BMC IV, 175)
Weight: 3.130 g

CM BMC IV, 175;CM BMC IV, 172

Room 68: Money

    Fatimid dinar and a Crusader besant

    Dinar: minted in Tarablus (Tripoli), Libya, AH 465 / AD 1072-73

    When the Muslim Fatimid dynasty (909-1171) came to power in Egypt, they brought with them direct access to the gold sources of West Africa. On his arrival in Cairo the caliph al-Mu'izz (953-75) is said to have come with 500 camels bearing gold and other riches. Islamic medieval gold coins were made of very pure gold, and so were highly valued in trade. They also had an impact on the coinage of their neighbours. Imitations of Islamic dinars are found in Sicily, Spain and in the Crusader kingdoms.

    On their arrival in the Near East, the Crusaders were faced with an established use of gold coins both by the Byzantine and the Islamic states, while in the west, gold had not been used since the seventh century. During the first half of the thirteenth century, the Crusaders struck gold coins, known as besants, an example of which is shown here with a coin of al-Mustansir (died 1094) which they imitated. They were inferior in weight and often bore blundered Arabic inscriptions. The crusaders also struck silver imitations of Ayyubid dirhams of the mints of Damascus and Aleppo. The reasons for issuing coins imitating those of their neighbours both in gold and silver, was in order to be able to trade with them and to participate in the local economy.

    M.L. Bates, 'Thirteenth-century Crusader imitations of Ayyubid silver coinage: a preliminary survey' in Near Eastern numismatics icono (Beirut, 1974)

    P. Balog and J. Yvon, 'Monnaies a légendes arabes de "orient latin"', Revue Numismatique (1958)

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