Exhibitions/ Art Object

Anonymous Aniconic Dinar

Made in Probably Damascus
Diam: 13/16 in. (2 cm); wt: 4.3 g
Credit Line:
Byzantine Collection, Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C. (BZC.2001.29)
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.
In 696/97 ‘Abd al-Malik (r. 685–705) began issuing a series of coins bearing only religious inscriptions in Arabic. Such epigraphic coins are one of the many reforms introduced during his caliphate that laid the foundations for the imagery of the Islamic state.
The design of ‘Abd al-Malik’s gold and silver coins—several lines of horizontal inscription enclosed by a circular marginal inscription—became the standard for precious-metal coinage for centuries. This example combines the shahada with two verses from the Qur’an.
Inscription: In Arabic, in field: There is no god but God alone; he has no associate; around edge: Muhammad is the prophet of God; He sent him with guidance and the true religion to make it victorious over every religion [Qur’an 9:33]; on reverse, in field: God is one, God is eternal; He did not give birth and He was not born [Qur’an 112:1–3]; around edge: In the name of God; this dinar was struck in the year 79
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition (7th–9th Century)," March 12, 2012–July 8, 2012.