Jordan National Bank Numismatic Museum
Hegira 72 / AD 692
خزانة رقم 8
Diameter 31 mm, weight: 4.1 g
After the Muslim conquest of Syria and Iran, the Muslims found it convenient to adopt the administrative and monetary systems of these countries. At first they imitated the Byzantine gold coin type and the Sassanid silver coin type. The Arab-Sassanid type which was called Pahlawi (middle Persian) is distinguished by the addition of Arabic legends and the portrait of the Sassanid king on the obverse, and the Zoroastrian fire altar surrounded by two priests on the reverse.
The coin seen here is an imitation of a Sassanid dirham struck by Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan (r. AH 65–86 / AD 685–707).
The obverse shows a bust of the Sassanid King Yazdigird III, he is bearded, with flowing curly hair bunched at the back. He faces right and wears a diademed headdress studded with two rows of pearls, which is surmounted by a crest consisting of two wide-spread wings. The name of the Caliph Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan appears and a Pahlawi invocation: 'AFZUT/GDH' ('May kingship increase'). There is an Arabic legend: 'in the name of Allah' in the margin.
At the centre of the reverse the Sassanid fire altar is depicted. Elevated on three steps, the altar has two attendant priests (mobedh) who stand on either side of the altar facing it. At the bottom right is the mint, in Pahlawi: 'DA' ('Darbjird'); at the bottom left, also in Pahlawi, the date: 'shest', which in the Yazdigird calendar is the year 60.
Silver dirham of the Arab-Sassanid type; the obverse has a bust of the Sassanid King Yazdigird III, the name of ‘Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan (r. AH 65–86 / AD 685–707) and an Arabic legend: ‘in the name of Allah’. The mint (Darbjird) and the date (year 60 in the Yazdigird calendar) are on the reverse.
At the bottom left in Pahlawi the date: 'shest' is inscribed, which in the Yazdigird calendar is the year 60 (AH 72 / AD 692). The Yazdigird calendar began in AD 632 at the instigation of King Yazdigird III and continues after his death in AD 651. The Muslims used this calendar to date the imitation Sassanid coins they struck.
The coin was purchased from an antiquities dealer in 1998.
The provenance is known by the mint on the reverse of the coin, which is Darbjird in Iran (ancient Faris).
العش.محمد، النقود العربية الإسلامية المحفوظة في متحف قطر الوطني, الدوحة, 1984, المجلد الأول ص 61, رقم 21, اللوحة الثانية رقم 21.
Goussous, N., Umayyad Coinage of Bilad al-Sham, Amman, 1996, p.37, object no. 14.
Walker, J. A., A Catalogue of the Arab-Sassanian Coins, London, 1941, p.28, cat. no. C3, plate XXX1.7
Aida Naghawy "Coin (dirham)" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2023. https://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;jo;Mus01_G;42;en
Prepared by: Aida NaghawyAida Naghawy
Aida Naghawy is an archaeologist and the Director of Jordan Archaeological Museum. She studied archaeology at the University of Jordan where she gained her MA. She was affiliated to the Jordanian Department of Antiquities from 1974 as a curator of Jordan Archaeological Museum. In 1981 she became inspector of Jerash antiquities and co-ordinator of the Jerash International Rehabilitation project. She was also head of the archaeological awareness section at the Department of Antiquities. Aida is the author of numerous publications on Islamic coins. She has carried out excavation work in Jerash and is the founder of Jerash Archaeological Museum and the Islamic Museum of the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs.
Copyedited by: Mandi GomezMandi Gomez
Amanda Gomez is a freelance copy-editor and proofreader working in London. She studied Art History and Literature at Essex University (1986–89) and received her MA (Area Studies Africa: Art, Literature, African Thought) from SOAS in 1990. She worked as an editorial assistant for the independent publisher Bellew Publishing (1991–94) and studied at Bookhouse and the London College of Printing on day release. She was publications officer at the Museum of London until 2000 and then took a role at Art Books International, where she worked on projects for independent publishers and arts institutions that included MWNF’s English-language editions of the books series Islamic Art in the Mediterranean. She was part of the editorial team for further MWNF iterations: Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean Virtual Museum and the illustrated volume Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean.
True to its ethos of connecting people through the arts, MWNF has provided Amanda with valuable opportunities for discovery and learning, increased her editorial experience, and connected her with publishers and institutions all over the world. More recently, the projects she has worked on include MWNF’s Sharing History Virtual Museum and Exhibition series, Vitra Design Museum’s Victor Papanek and Objects of Desire, and Haus der Kulturen der Welt’s online publication 2 or 3 Tigers and its volume Race, Nation, Class.
MWNF Working Number: JO 83
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