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Roma Numismatics Ltd
Auction XIV  21 Sep 2017
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Lot 894

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Estimate: 125000 GBP
Price realized: 150000 GBP

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Umayyad Caliphate, time of 'Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan (AH 65-86 / AD 685-705) AV Dinar. Unnamed (Damascus?) mint. Dated AH 77 (AD 696/7). First portion of the kalimat at-tawḥīd: lā ilāha illā-llāhu waḥdahu lā sharīka lahu (there is no god except Allah, and one [is] he; (there is) no partner to him) in three lines; in outer margin, the Umayyad Second Symbol" (Sura 9 [al-tauba]:33): muḥammadur rasūlu-llāh arsalahu bi-'lhudā wa dīn al-haqq lī-yuzhirahu 'ala al-dīn kollihi walau kariha al-mushrikūn (Muhammad is the messenger of Allah; him He sent with guidance and true faith to make it prevail over all other faiths even though the polytheists may hate it) / The "Umayyad Symbol" (Sura 112 [al-ikhlas]) Āllah ahad Āllah āl-samad lam yalīd wa lam yalūd (Allah [is] One; Allah [is] the Eternal, the Absolute; not begetting and not begotten) in three lines; in outer margin, b-ismi-llāh zarb hazā āl-dinār fī sanat seb' wa seb'īn (in the name of Allah struck this dinar in the year seven and seventy (after the Hijra)). AGC I 41; Walker, Arab-Byzantine, 186; Album 125; ICV 155. 4.27g, 20mm, 6h.

Good Extremely Fine; very minor graffiti and traces of double-striking. Very Rare; an excellent example of what has been described as the most desirable Islamic coin ever struck.

This famous gold Dinar, struck in the year 77 of the Hijra, marks a defining point in Islamic history. Although there was a dictum that the Byzantine solidus was not to be used outside of the Byzantine Empire, there was some limited trade that involved the use of Byzantine solidi outside of the empire's borders. Since these solidi were frequently not re-minted as those within the empire were, they quickly became worn. Towards the end of the 7th century CE, 'Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan began to produce Arabic copies of solidi – 'dinars' which corresponded in weight to only 4 grams, but matched with the weight of the worn solidi that were circulating at the time. These copies of Byzantine solidi bore Byzantine legends and iconography, but omitted any Christian symbols on either obverse or reverse. The legends were soon replaced with an Arabic legend – thus bearing witness to the moment at which the faith of Islam became the religion of the state. In AH 77 'Abd al-Malik reformed the coinage and issued the first of what would become the standard pattern for Muslim coinage. The AH 77 Dinar bears only the denomination and date of striking, with the Kalima and words from the Holy Qur'an. This new type was used without appreciable change for the whole of Umayyad period, the coins being struck to a new and carefully controlled standard of 4.25 grams, and bearing the year of minting, much as modern coins do today. This issue marked a great turning point - replacing the images of rulers with Qur'anic verses emphasised that the Islamic Empire was ruled by God and not by mortal men.
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