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Gold dinar with a standing caliph


Weight: 4.030 g
Diameter: 19.000 mm

Gift of P. Grierson

CM 1954 10-11 2

Room 34: The Islamic world

    Gold dinar with a standing caliph

    Umayyad dynasty, AH 76 / AD 695-6
    Probably from Syria

    A modification of Byzantine coins

    The centre of this coin has an image which may represent the Umayyad caliph Abd al-Malik (reigned AD 685-705). Abd al-Malik was responsible for the construction of the two principal monuments of the early Islamic period, the Done of the Rock in Jerusalem, and the Umayyad mosque in Damascus. He is shown here dressed in traditional Arab head-dress and robes and holding a sword. Around the margin is the Islamic profession of faith, the shahada.

    On the other side of the coin (the reverse) is a design modified from the image of a Byzantine cross on steps. The Arabic legend around it contains the date, AH 76 (AD 695-6). The inscriptions are in a style of angular script sometimes known as Kufic, typical of this period.

    Up to the late seventh century, coins in the western region of the Islamic world copied and adapted the coins of the Byzantines whom they conquered. The 'Standing Caliph' image was used both on gold and copper coins. It reflects a stage in the evolution of early Islamic coinage, with the 'arabization' of the earlier Byzantine coins.

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

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

    G. Miles, 'The earliest Arab gold coinage' in American Numismatic Society No, vol. 13 (, 1967)

    M.L. Bates, 'History, geography and numismatics in the first century of Islamic coinage', Revue Numismatique-2, 65 (1986), pp. 231-62


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