Exhibitions/ Art Object

Dinar of Byzantine Type with Arabic Inscriptions

ca. 685–694
Made in Probably Damascus
Diam: 13/16 in. (2 cm); thickness: 3/8 in. (1 cm); wt: 4.4 g
Credit Line:
University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Philadelphia (1002.1.107)
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.
The caliph ‘Abd al-Malik (r. 685–705) instituted significant change in coinage. His early issues struck in gold, silver, and copper replaced the image of the emperor with that of the caliph, removed the Christian cross, and used religious inscriptions, such as the shahada, the profession of faith.
On this coin, modeled after a solidus of Heraclius, Heraclius Constantine, and Heraclonas, Arab costume replaces Byzantine imperial dress. The shahada is inscribed in Arabic on the reverse.
Inscription: In Arabic, on reverse: There is no god but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God ); in field, in Greek: B I [significance of letters unknown]