The British Museum, London :: Islamic Coins

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The Islamic coin collection of the British Museum is broadly representative and illustrates very nicely the range of imagery and inscriptions. We can see here the first experiments in imitating the figurative imagery of the coins issued by previous rulers in the territories the Arabs conquered, the transition to coins with only Arabic script, and the introduction of various other kinds of imagery, including signs of the zodiac. The images here are from the informative selection in Gallery 34 of the Museum. I have also included a few images from the early medieval section of the museum (Gallery 41) showing Islamic coins as found in Viking hoards. The arrangement below is more or less chronological, with the earliest coins first. Unless otherwise indicated, the place is that of issue, not where the coin was found.

For a much larger selection of Islamic coins, visit the American Numismatic Society database, to which I have provided links here for individual coins that are analogous to the British Museum examples. Another very rich resource for Silk Road coinage is T. K. Mallon-McCorgray's The Coins and the History of Asia.

Click on thumbnail for full view.

Two gold dinars minted in Damascus, ca. 690 CE, and, for comparison, two gold solidi of Byzantine Emperor Heraclius, 610-641, on which the Umayyad coins were modeled. Note though that the bar on the cross has been removed.
The Arabic inscription on the Umayyid coins reads: "In the name of God."
For the Byzantine coins, cf. American Numismatic Society, ANS 1968.131.99, weight 4.47 g.
Gold dinar with image of standing caliph.
Umayyad dynasty, AH 76/ CE 695-6, minted in Damascus. Weight: 4.030 g.; Dia.: 19 mm.
CM 1954.10-11.2
Cf. American Numismatic Society ANS 1970.63.1, weight 4.461 g., dia. 20 mm., dated 1694-5. On its reverse is the pillar (based on the Byzantine coin but with the cross bar removed).
Umayyad gold dinars of Caliph Abd al-Malik, after the replacement of figurative imagery with Arabic script alone.
Damascus, AH 77 and 78/CE 696-7, 697-8. Weight: 4.25 g.; Dia. 19 mm.
CM 1874.7-6.1
Cf. American Numismatic Society ANS 1917.215.3395, dated 1697-98.
Abbasid gold dinars.
Baghdad, AH 145/CE 762; AH 148/CE 765.
Cf. American Numismatic Society, ANS 1917.215.9, weight 4.257 g., dia. 19 mm., dated 754-755.
Silver dirhams: (1) Mint of al-Andalus (Cordoba, Spain), AH 116/CE 734; (2) Herat (Afghanistan), AH 93/CE 711-712; (3) (two coins), Kufa, Iraq, AH 141/CE 758.
Contrast last two coins, pre-Islamic Sasanian silver dirhams, minted at Ardashir-Khurra, year 27 and Nihavand, Iran, year 30, i.e., CE 658, 661.
For no. (1), cf. American Numismatic Society, ANS 1001.57.4947, weight 2.883 g., dia. 25 mm.; for no. (2) (Herat) cf. ANS 1977.253.1, issued at Abarshahra (Khurasan/Nishapur), Iran, weight 2.82 g.; for no. (3), cf. ANS 1930.168.7, issued by Salm b. Qutayba at al-Basra (Iraq) AH 145/CE 762-3,
Silver dirham.
Tahirid dynasty, Samarkand, Uzbekistan, AH 209/CE 824.
Silver dirham.
Saffarid dynasty. Fars, Iran. AH 292/CE 905.
Cf. American Numismatic Society, ANS 1973.37.7, issued by Ahmad b. Muhammad at Andaraba, Tukharistan, AH 292/CE 904-905.
Silver dirham.
Samanid dynasty. Balkh, Afghanistan. AH 293/CE 906.
Two silver dirhams of Nasr II b. Ahmad.
Samanid dynasty. (l.) Samarkand, AH 309/CE 921-2; (r.) Nishapur, AH 309/CE 921-22.
1974.9-16.468; 1974.9-16.567
Cf. American Numismatic Society, ANS 1971.104.97, issued by Nasr b. Ahmad al-Muqtadir in Samarkand, AH 304/CE 916-917, weight 3.07 g., dia. 26-27 mm.
Silver dirham.
Samanid dynasty. Al-Ma'dan, Afghanistan. No date, ca. 976-997.
Cf. two other issues of Samanid ruler Nasr (Nuh) II, from Kurat Badakhshan, Afghanistan, which have name of local governor al-Harath, 11.590 g., 1.7 cm, CM 1972.11-9.2.
Silver dirhams.
Qarakhanid dynasty. (1) Uzkand, Uzbekistan, AH 394/CE 1004); (2) Bukhara, Uzbekistan, AH 427/CE 1036.
For no. (1) cf. American Numismatic Society ANS 2000.32.3, issued by Ahmad b. 'Ali/Nasr b. 'Ali at Uzkand, AH 394/CE 1003/1004, weight 2.795 g., dia. 25 mm.
Part of Cuerdale Hoard, including silver coins and chopped silver objects.
Buried ca. 905, Cuerdale, Lancashire, England. The largest Viking hoard found in Western Europe, contained 7500 coins and 1500 other silver objects.
Read about the Cuerdale Hoard.
Chopped up silver and silver Arab dirhams.
Deposited on Island of Gotland, Baltic Sea, 10th-11th c. CE.
Gold dinar.
Buyid dynasty. Rayy (Muhammadiyah), Iran, AH 398/CE 1008.
Gold dinar.
Ghurid dynasty. Ghazna, Afghanistan, AH 602/CE 1205.
Cf. American Numismatic Society, ANS 1922.216.7, issued by Mu'izz al'Din Muhammad, weight 20.1 gr., dated AH 600/CE 1203-1204.
Silver dirham.
Khwarazm shahs. Samarkand, Uzbekistan, AH 610/CE 1213.
Silver dirham.
Mongol great khans. Balkh, Afghanistan, AH 618/CE 1221.
Contrast American Numismatic Society, ANS 1998.25.687, issued by Chingiz Khan in Khurasan, ca. 1221-1227, weight 4.127 g., dia. 16 mm.
Silver coin with sign of zodiac Leo.
Saljuq dynasty. Siwas, Turkey, AH 63x/ca. CE 1237-1241.
Cf. American Numismatic Society, ANS 1922.211.171, issued by Kay-Khusraw II al-Mustansir at Siwas, AH 640/CE 1242, weight 2.92 g., dia. 23 mm.
Gold dinar.
Muwahhid dynasty. Sabta (Ceuta), Spain. No date, ca. CE 1248-1266.
Cf. American Numismatic Society, ANS 1917.215.626, issued by Abu Hafs 'Umar, weight 4.573 g., dia. 30 mm.
Gold dinar.
Mongol Ilkhanid dynasty. Shiraz, Iran, AH 700/CE 1301.
Silver dirham.
Timurid dynasty. Astarabad, Iran, AH 789/CE 1387.
Silver dirham.
Timurid dynasty. Herat, Afghanistan, no date, ca. CE 1390-1402.
Silver dirham.
Delhi sultanate, India. AH 947/CE 1540.
Silver dirham.
Safavid dynasty. Isfahan, Iran, AH 1118/CE 1706.
Gold dinar.
Kokand, Uzbekistan. AH 1252/CE 1836.