Diameter: 1.200 cm
Weight: 3.750 g
Gift of C. Clarke
CM 1876 12-7 2
Room 68: Money
Silver dirham of al-Hajjaj ibn. Yusuf
Bishapur, southern Iran
AH 77/AD 696-7
An Islamic coin based on a Sasanian prototype
The first Islamic coins minted in the eastern Islamic lands (Iran and central Asia) initially adapted Sasanian silver types. The Sasanian coins bore the head of Khosrau II (reigned 590-628) on the obverse (front) of the coin, and a fire altar on the reverse. The fire is a sacred symbol in the Zoroastrian religion which was the state religion in ancient Persia under the Sasanians.
Under Islamic rule these Sasanian images were adapted to include Arabic inscriptions. The coin shown here was struck by the powerful Umayyad governor of the eastern provinces, al-Hajjaj ibn. Yusuf. His name appears in Kufic script to the right of the head of Khosrau II. He was in charge of implementing the reform of the coinage initiated by the Umayyad caliph Abd al-Malik (685-706).
M. Broome, A handbook of Islamic coins (London, 1985)
J. Walker, A catalogue of the Arab-Sasani (London, 1941)
J. Williams (ed.), Money: a history (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)