Exhibitions/ Art Object

Sasanian-style Dirham with Arab Image

Made in Probably Damascus
Diam: 1 1/4 in. (3.1 cm); wt: 0.008 lb (3.7 g)
Credit Line:
The American Numismatic Society, New York (1966.151.1)
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.
Silver issues combine a Sasanian regnal bust with the profession of faith in Arabic on the obverse. On the reverse, the fire altar was replaced by the image of the caliph.
Inscription: In Arabic, on obverse, in margin: struck in the year 75; In the name of God. There is no god but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God ); on reverse, left and right: Caliph of God, Commander of the Faithful
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition (7th–9th Century)," March 12, 2012–July 8, 2012.