Exhibitions/ Art Object

Fals with Arabic Inscriptions, M reverse

ca. 685–688
Made in Amman (?)
Diam: 11/16 in. (1.7 cm); wt: 3.4 g
Credit Line:
Byzantine Collection, Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C. (BZC.2000.4.76)
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, the caliph replaces the emperor. The Arabic inscription on the obverse reads: "For ‘Abd al-Malik, Commander of the Faithful." The profession of faith "There is no god but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God" is inscribed in Arabic on the reverse.
Inscription: In Arabic, on obverse: for ‘Abd al-Malik, Commander of the Faithful ); on reverse, in Greek: M: in Arabic: There is no god but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition (7th–9th Century)," March 12, 2012–July 8, 2012.