Exhibitions/ Art Object

Greek Fals of Damascus

Date:
ca. 660–680
Geography:
Made in Damascus
Medium:
Copper
Dimensions:
Diam: 11/16 in. (1.8 cm); wt: 3.1g
Classification:
Coins
Credit Line:
Byzantine Collection, Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C. (BZC.2000.4.38)
Not on view
The Byzantine Empire issued the gold solidus, or nomisma, used primarily for large transactions such as tax payments, and several denominations of copper coins, the money of daily business transactions. Mints in Antioch and Alexandria supplied the majority of the coinage circulated in the southern provinces. The newly established Arab government inherited an efficient monetary system and made few changes during its first decades. The caliph ‘Abd al-Malik (r. 685–705) introduced several issues of distinctively Islamic coinage.
Like earlier Islamic coins, the copper issues of Mu‘awiya (r. 661–80) followed Byzantine prototypes. The coins have mintmarks and inscriptions in Greek, Arabic, or both. Although there is significant variation, each of the nine or ten mints active during his reign seem to have employed a distinctive image type.
Inscription: In Greek, on obverse: [meaningless; ultimately derived from the Greek ANANEO that appeared on the reverse of imitations of Constans II types ]; on reverse :M [probably no longer seen as number 40]; left and right: year 17 [meaningless date copied from prototype]; in exergue: Dam[ascus]