Exhibitions/ Art Object

Imitation of Heraclius Follis of Cyprus

Made in Probably northern Syria
Diam: 15/16 in. (2.4 cm); wt: 3.9 g
Credit Line:
Byzantine Collection, Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C. (BZC.1948.17.2091)
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.
During the first decades of Islamic rule, Byzantine and newly minted Arab coins circulated together. The new coinage imitated Byzantine prototypes. Research has shown that these coins, without date or mintmark, were struck according to the declining weight standard of contemporary Byzantine coinage.
Coins from the reigns of Heraclius (r. 610–41) and Constans II (r. 641–68) provided ready models for early Arab coinage. Although this coin imitates an issue of Cyprus, examples are commonly found in Syria.
Inscription: In Greek, on reverse:40; below: workshop 3; left and right: year 18; in exergue: Cyprus
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition (7th–9th Century)," March 12, 2012–July 8, 2012.