Diameter: 2.000 cm
Weight: 2.560 g
Gift of Sir Richard Burn
CM 1949 8-3 389
Room 34: The Islamic world
Silver dirham of Saladin
Ayyubid dynasty, AH 580 / AD
Struck in Aleppo (Halab), Syria
Salah al-Din Yusuf, popularly known as Saladin (1138-1193) is best known for his success in the wars of the Crusades. As the commander of an Egyptian force, he proved an outstanding military genius and was celebrated for his chivalry. He managed to retake Jerusalem from European control in 1187, and famously spared the inhabitants of the city and massively reduced the Crusader presence in the region.
Saladin was also the founder of the Ayyubid dynasty, which at different times ruled large parts of the Near East and Yemen from 1169 until the end of the fifteenth century. The Ayyubids put an end to Fatimid rule in Egypt, replacing Isma'ili Shi'ism which had predominated for two centuries with the Sunni orthodoxy. With it came a strong educational policy and the introduction of the religious colleges or madrasas. Examples of these monuments can still be seen all over the region.
Saladin and his successors struck coins in gold, silver and copper in a variety of styles. The silver dirham shown here has an attractive six-pointed star design which is characteristic of coins struck in Aleppo, in Syria.
P. Balog, The coinage of the Ayyubids (London, Royal Numismatic Society, 1980)