Exhibitions/ Art Object

Anonymous Aniconic Dirham

Made in Damascus
Diam: 1 in. (2.6 cm); wt: 2.9 g
Credit Line:
The American Numismatic Society, New York (1971.316.1454)
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.
In 696/97 ‘Abd al-Malik (r. 685–705) began issuing a series of coins bearing only religious inscriptions in Arabic. Such epigraphic coins are one of the many reforms introduced during his caliphate that laid the foundations for the imagery of the Islamic state.
The silver issues from this series include the mint signature of Damascus. Like the gold dinar, this dirham combines a verse from the Qur’an with the profession of faith.
Inscription: In Arabic, on obverse, in field: There is no god but God alone; he has no associate;
around edge: In the name of God, this dirham was struck in Damascus in the year 80); on reverse, in field: God is one, God is eternal; He did not give birth and He was not born, and He has no equal; around edge: Muhammad is the prophet of God; He sent him with
guidance and the true religion to make it victorious over every religion, even if the associators hate it [Qur’an 9:33]
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition (7th–9th Century)," March 12, 2012–July 8, 2012.