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Arab-Byzantine Abd al-Malik Standing Caliph Coin  

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Valued Member
United States
214 Posts
 Posted 06/23/2009  12:23 am Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add willieboyd2 to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
Arab-Byzantine Abd al-Malik Standing Caliph Coin

(I do not know if this qualifies as an ancient coin or not)

I was looking at Byzantine coins for sale on eBay and found this one.
I knew nothing about it but it looked interesting.
I had managed to get a $200 bill from a company cancelled and figured
that I could spend some of the money on a coin.
I paid $34 for this coin.

I received the coin and started looking up information on it.

The coin is used on the cover of a book about the Islamic conquests of Byzantine territory.
Byzantium and the Early Islamic Conquests by Walter Emil Kaegi

Abd al-Malik was the caliph (king) of the Islamic Umayyad forces which took over the
Middle East from the Byzantine (Roman) Empire. He reigned from AD 685 to 705.

He had these coins made around AD 693 to 697.
The obverse has an image representing the caliph standing and bearing a sword.
The reverse has an obelisk and circle set on steps, apparently modifed from a Christian cross on steps.
The legend is written in script and states something like:
"There is no god but Allah and Mohammed is the messenger of God"
The coin is made of bronze, is around 21mm in diameter, and was minted in Damascus.

Later, the caliph introduced a uniquely Muslim coinage, which supplanted the Byzantine coins
that had previously been in use. After AD 697 the coins had purely script.

Probably Abd al-Malik's greatest accomplishment was the construction of the
Dome of the Rock mosque in Jerusalem.
(I had the privilege of visiting it in 1986)
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Pillar of the Community
United States
2669 Posts
 Posted 06/23/2009  02:19 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add xshift to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Great coin! I was just reading about these...

From McMillan's Encyclopedic Dictionary: "An early Islamic coinage of brief duration, which borrowed its designs, weights, and legends from contemporary issues of the Byzantine Empire." Also, describes these reverses so: 'the offending Christian cross was replaced with a globe on a pole' (the cross being the one on the steps you mention) and these retained the prior Bysantine obverses until new coinage was finally designed (shortly before 700 in most places and a bit after that in Spain and North Africa).

Arab-Sassanian coinage is along the same lines, although they are harder to tell apart from their pure Sassanian predecessors because they only added small Arabic inscriptions here and there to the designs. Apparently they were very much a people in a hurry - too many places to conquer and not enough time to design coins!

I love the history aspect of coins like this. Thanks for showing the book, too! Another for the wish list..
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12696 Posts
 Posted 06/23/2009  05:50 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Sap to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

(I do not know if this qualifies as an ancient coin or not)

Personally, I classify anything after 500AD as "mediaeval" rather than "ancient", but as this forum doesn't have a mediaeval section, you're free to post it either here or in amongst the regular World Coins; wherever yo fell it's most appropriate.

As for the coin itself: I like it.

I don't own any of these pre-697 early Islamic coins myself yet (either Arab-Byzantine or Arab-Sassanian); my earliest Islamic is an Umayyad dirham dated to 710 AD.
Don't say "infinitely" when you mean "very"; otherwise, you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite. - C. S. Lewis
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