Exhibitions/ Art Object

Fals of Jerusalem

ca. 692–697
Made in Jerusalem
Diam: 13/16 in. (2.1 cm); wt: 3.1 g
Credit Line:
Byzantine Collection, Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C. (BZC.2000.4.69)
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.
Beginning in the 690s ‘Abd al-Malik (r. 685–705) issued a series of coins depicting a standing caliph. Although the rare precious-metal coins do not bear a mintmark, they were presumably struck in Damascus. The copper coins were issued at sixteen mints. This is the final Umayyad series of coins to depict a human image.
Copper coins issued in Palestine and Mesopotamia differ from those issued in Syria. The image of the standing caliph is combined with the Arabic inscription "Muhammad is the Prophet of God. The M of the Byzantine follis is retained on the reverse.
Inscription: In Arabic, on obverse: Muhammad is the messenger of God; on
reverse, left and right: Iliya [Jerusalem] Palestine
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition (7th–9th Century)," March 12, 2012–July 8, 2012.