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. Like earlier Islamic coins, the copper issues of Mu‘awiya (r. 661–80) followed Byzantine prototypes. The coins have mintmarks and inscriptions in Greek, Arabic, or both. Although there is significant variation, each of the nine or ten mints active during his reign seem to have employed a distinctive image type. While the majority of mints looked to seventh-century Byzantine coins, the mints of Scythopolis (now Beisan, in Israel) and Gerasa (now Jerash, in Jordan) modeled coinage after the folles of Emperor Justin II (r. 565–78).
Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings
Inscription: In Greek, on reverse: M; below: A; left and right and in exergue: [inscriptions imitated from prototype]
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition (7th–9th Century)," March 12, 2012–July 8, 2012.