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You've seen Arab-Byzantine coins, but what about an Arab-Roman coin?


ValiantKnight
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I had started this as a post on another thread, but since I had already planned to make a thread for this in the near future, I decided to push it to the front of the queue and make the thread now. I like collecting Roman coins. I like collecting early Islamic coins. And I am into Arab-Byzantine coins (even though it is like 40th on my mental list of collecting priorities, so I only have one or two). So imagine my surprise when I found this at auction. Up to that point, I don't think I had ever seen a non-Byzantine Roman (or at least, I hadn't seen a late Roman) coin overstruck by the Arabs, so I knew I had to have this interesting coin.

Umayyad Caliphate
AE fals (overstruck on a Roman follis of Honorius, Virtvs Exerciti type, RIC X 61)
Obv: The Kalima, in Arabic (D N HONORI [VS P F AVG], pearl-diademed, draped bust right)
Rev: Transformed cross(?) (VIRTVS-EXERCITI, emperor standing left, head right, holding spear and resting left hand on shield. Victory, standing beside him crowning him with a wreath)
Mint: (Constantinople for undertype)
Mintmark: None (CON in ex.)
Date: 697-750 AD (post-coin reform; undertype struck 395-401 AD)

honoriusarabvk.jpg.14b7b2b2dab19988bb108ce697231c1a.jpg

It actually basically combines aspects of three different types:

The Kalima (the Islamic declaration of faith: "there is no god but Allah, Muhammad is the messenger of Allah”), here overstruck on the obverse, became a central feature (literally and figuratively) of Islamic coins after the 697 coinage reform that did away with pictures/icons. It seems the Kalima was deliberately struck over Honorius's face as a way to conform to the reform.

My coin, a late Umayyad bronze from Tiberias (the Kalima is on the left photo, obverse):

UmayyadFalsvk.jpg.8dcefecafdb72dcf824331d59752336f.jpg

 

Despite the reform, it looks like the Roman reverse was overstruck with a "transformed cross" reverse found on the Standing Caliph type from before the reform.

Also mine, a Standing Caliph type from Aleppo:

standingcaliphvkcomparison.jpg.ee8a2d214c0ea1e788f256b63462851c.jpg

And of course, the Roman undertype (not mine; from Wildwinds):

RIC0061wildwinds.jpg.0f5307a2778aefe20c872286a434855b.jpg

The Umayyad Caliphate became one of the largest empires in history in less than a century:

Caliphate_740-enWiki.png.843a8b1f5733cfcc0b2d34aa3466c548.png

 

Please post your Arab-Roman, Arab-Byzantine coins, and/or anything else relevant!

Edited by ValiantKnight
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Oh man, that is SOOOO cool!!  If I had seen that coin I would have been all over it.  Within the past year I bid on a similar overstrike (but only 2 strikes!) but it went sky high.

Four sorta relevant coins.  First, I guess this sort of counts as Roman Arab, since it was minted in Bostra, Arabia:

image.jpeg.c134ecfe5efb2409ee0fdc7513f07395.jpeg

^ Severus Alexander.  You can see its distinctive chunky and porous fabric.  It's speculated that these may actually have been cast as the normal method of production.  (I wonder if it's just how they cast the flans though.)

Next, the Honorius undertype you have, but Antioch:

image.jpeg.3e0e79aba0166b7a472060241b4d19a6.jpeg

And an Umayyad fals with an overstrike.  It's Jerusalem mint (Album 179) overstruck on Ramla:

image.jpeg.4b73e055a0bef61834d626050e50cf28.jpeg

And finally, my own Standing Caliph from Aleppo:

image.jpeg.bc5dcf6c0450014ea7bfe3b3e608d284.jpeg

 

Awesome coin my friend, coingrats!!!

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Oh!  I can't believe I forgot to post this coin!

image.jpeg.aea52ea745f4dd3d587b79684e9facb8.jpeg

If it doesn't look like an overstrike, that's because it isn't.  This is the original design of this fals, issued by the Zengid al-Malik al-Salih Isma'il (1173-1182).  Much later than your Umayyad coin, but it pretty obviously makes use of a late Roman coin as its model.

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2 hours ago, Severus Alexander said:

Oh man, that is SOOOO cool!!  If I had seen that coin I would have been all over it.  Within the past year I bid on a similar overstrike (but only 2 strikes!) but it went sky high.

Four sorta relevant coins.  First, I guess this sort of counts as Roman Arab, since it was minted in Bostra, Arabia:

image.jpeg.c134ecfe5efb2409ee0fdc7513f07395.jpeg

^ Severus Alexander.  You can see its distinctive chunky and porous fabric.  It's speculated that these may actually have been cast as the normal method of production.  (I wonder if it's just how they cast the flans though.)

Next, the Honorius undertype you have, but Antioch:

image.jpeg.3e0e79aba0166b7a472060241b4d19a6.jpeg

And an Umayyad fals with an overstrike.  It's Jerusalem mint (Album 179) overstruck on Ramla:

image.jpeg.4b73e055a0bef61834d626050e50cf28.jpeg

And finally, my own Standing Caliph from Aleppo:

image.jpeg.bc5dcf6c0450014ea7bfe3b3e608d284.jpeg

 

Awesome coin my friend, coingrats!!!

Thanks! All all great coins you posted as well! That Jerusalem overstrike is especially interesting!

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Posted (edited)

I took a moment and outlined the remaining parts of the Roman reverse. The figure on the left is the emperor holding his spear, and what remains of Victory is her arm outstretched holding the wreath, her head, and her wing.

5331B414-D007-4A33-B91F-B8F3B721BA7E.jpeg.ca26a8acf977331047732512709883ab.jpeg

 

Edited by ValiantKnight
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The op may be a double overstrike: a post-reform Umayyad fals over a standing caliph fals over a Roman issue of Honorius. Very interesting!

[edit] What looks like the 'modified cross on steps' may also be الله (Allah) or another word stretched lengthwise, which was sometimes done.

Edited by DLTcoins
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Very cool!  I also have a LRB that was overstruck by the Umayyads.  On my coin, the under type is a little less clear, but in the obverse margin from about 1-3 o'clock you can read DNCON, indicating the under type is Constantinian.

 

Umayyad fals Tabariya.jpg

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8 hours ago, Parthicus said:

Very cool!  I also have a LRB that was overstruck by the Umayyads.  On my coin, the under type is a little less clear, but in the obverse margin from about 1-3 o'clock you can read DNCON, indicating the under type is Constantinian.

 

Umayyad fals Tabariya.jpg

Love it!

 

15 hours ago, ValiantKnight said:

I had started this as a post on another thread, but since I had already planned to make a thread for this in the near future, I decided to push it to the front of the queue and make the thread now. I like collecting Roman coins. I like collecting early Islamic coins. And I am into Arab-Byzantine coins (even though it is like 40th on my mental list of collecting priorities, so I only have one or two). So imagine my surprise when I found this at auction. Up to that point, I don't think I had ever seen a non-Byzantine Roman (or at least, I hadn't seen a late Roman) coin overstruck by the Arabs, so I knew I had to have this interesting coin.

Umayyad Caliphate
AE fals (overstruck on a Roman follis of Honorius, Virtvs Exerciti type, RIC X 61)
Obv: The Kalima, in Arabic (D N HONORI [VS P F AVG], pearl-diademed, draped bust right)
Rev: Transformed cross(?) (VIRTVS-EXERCITI, emperor standing left, head right, holding spear and resting left hand on shield. Victory, standing beside him crowning him with a wreath)
Mint: (Constantinople for undertype)
Mintmark: None (CON in ex.)
Date: 697-750 AD (post-coin reform; undertype struck 395-401 AD)

honoriusarabvk.jpg.14b7b2b2dab19988bb108ce697231c1a.jpg

It actually basically combines aspects of three different types:

The Kalima (the Islamic declaration of faith: "there is no god but Allah, Muhammad is the messenger of Allah”), here overstruck on the obverse, became a central feature (literally and figuratively) of Islamic coins after the 697 coinage reform that did away with pictures/icons. It seems the Kalima was deliberately struck over Honorius's face as a way to conform to the reform.

My coin, a late Umayyad bronze from Tiberias (the Kalima is on the left photo, obverse):

UmayyadFalsvk.jpg.8dcefecafdb72dcf824331d59752336f.jpg

 

Despite the reform, it looks like the Roman reverse was overstruck with a "transformed cross" reverse found on the Standing Caliph type from before the reform.

Also mine, a Standing Caliph type from Aleppo:

standingcaliphvkcomparison.jpg.ee8a2d214c0ea1e788f256b63462851c.jpg

And of course, the Roman undertype (not mine; from Wildwinds):

RIC0061wildwinds.jpg.0f5307a2778aefe20c872286a434855b.jpg

The Umayyad Caliphate became one of the largest empires in history in less than a century:

Caliphate_740-enWiki.png.843a8b1f5733cfcc0b2d34aa3466c548.png

 

Please post your Arab-Roman, Arab-Byzantine coins, and/or anything else relevant!

Thanks for sharing!!! These are the coin types and writeups I love to see

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15 hours ago, DLTcoins said:

[edit] What looks like the 'modified cross on steps' may also be الله (Allah) or another word stretched lengthwise, which was sometimes done.

It could be, actually. I never thought of this. Makes a bit more sense given the obverse and the coin reform. 
 

13 hours ago, Parthicus said:

Very cool!  I also have a LRB that was overstruck by the Umayyads.  On my coin, the under type is a little less clear, but in the obverse margin from about 1-3 o'clock you can read DNCON, indicating the under type is Constantinian.

 

Umayyad fals Tabariya.jpg

Very nice example. And interesting that the Umayyads didn’t entirely do away with images. 

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On 6/20/2022 at 4:50 PM, ValiantKnight said:

 

Very nice example. And interesting that the Umayyads didn’t entirely do away with images. 

Indeed, the reform of coinage was not as instant as is sometimes implied.  Bronze coinage was in general more locally-controlled, with a lot more varieties which often included some imagery mixed in with the new religious inscriptions.  Stars, various animals and plants, and anchors are common, and there's even a scarce and eagerly-sought type that features a menorah.  Gold and silver was more tightly centrally-regulated, and those mostly transitioned to the "post-reform" types pretty quickly, but a few outlying areas took longer.  Tabaristan (on the southern shore of the Caspian Sea) and Eastern SIstan (the easternmost region of the Caliphate) were still striking silver coins with Sasanian-based designs until around 800 AD, nearly a century after the big coinage reform!  (I can show examples if requested, but don't want to derail this thread too much.)

 

Edited by Parthicus
Mentioned an ongoing auction that other members might be bidding on.
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  • 2 months later...

image.jpeg.97852510d7e6b001805211e9a340d0b8.jpeg

Erm, yep... maybe I was!  And maybe I landed it and finally took a photo! (Thanks for the edit, @Parthicus!)

Here she be:

image.jpeg.cac3c1f0ae19b26bbdf4476966f4ba66.jpeg

As you can see, it's an Umayyad fals overstruck on a Roman coin, which is pretty easily identifiable as a Licinius because so much of the undertype is visible.  The overtype is likely the first reform fals of Abd al-Malik (685-705), Album-153 from Syria, with no mint or date, which standardly has la ilah illa Allah wahdahu on the obverse and Muhammad rasul Allah on the reverse.  Here's one (not my coin):

image.jpeg.60f2156415bfbfb87359d6da289451b8.jpeg

However it looks to me a though my coin has two obverses (?) like this example on zeno.

In any case, the simplicity of the design explains why so much of the undertype survives.  Here's a photo with the reverse rotated so you can easily see Sol:

image.jpeg.77fb29dbabca5c4f41d9ab2a5d0baa1f.jpeg

At 3.22g and 22mm with a mint mark that looks like PT, a bust that appears to be a simple laureate head right, and Sol's hand inserted in the middle of INVI-CTO, it seems all but certain that the undertype is RIC VII 4 for Ticinum, which is quite a scarce coin minted under Constantine not long after he took over that mint (from Maxentius), and around the time of the Edict of Milan.  Here's one (not mine):

image.png.bf17b6ffcf7223b23141bd6b5babb327.png

I find it amazing that a coin minted in Italy in 313 got re-used in Syria about 400 years later!

 

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 8/27/2022 at 9:05 PM, Severus Alexander said:

image.jpeg.97852510d7e6b001805211e9a340d0b8.jpeg

Erm, yep... maybe I was!  And maybe I landed it and finally took a photo! (Thanks for the edit, @Parthicus!)

Here she be:

image.jpeg.cac3c1f0ae19b26bbdf4476966f4ba66.jpeg

As you can see, it's an Umayyad fals overstruck on a Roman coin, which is pretty easily identifiable as a Licinius because so much of the undertype is visible.  The overtype is likely the first reform fals of Abd al-Malik (685-705), Album-153 from Syria, with no mint or date, which standardly has la ilah illa Allah wahdahu on the obverse and Muhammad rasul Allah on the reverse.  Here's one (not my coin):

image.jpeg.60f2156415bfbfb87359d6da289451b8.jpeg

However it looks to me a though my coin has two obverses (?) like this example on zeno.

In any case, the simplicity of the design explains why so much of the undertype survives.  Here's a photo with the reverse rotated so you can easily see Sol:

image.jpeg.77fb29dbabca5c4f41d9ab2a5d0baa1f.jpeg

At 3.22g and 22mm with a mint mark that looks like PT, a bust that appears to be a simple laureate head right, and Sol's hand inserted in the middle of INVI-CTO, it seems all but certain that the undertype is RIC VII 4 for Ticinum, which is quite a scarce coin minted under Constantine not long after he took over that mint (from Maxentius), and around the time of the Edict of Milan.  Here's one (not mine):

image.png.bf17b6ffcf7223b23141bd6b5babb327.png

I find it amazing that a coin minted in Italy in 313 got re-used in Syria about 400 years later!

 

Glad to know that it was you won that coin! I had it saved in my watch list but I knew I wasn't going to bid on it since IIRC that was around the time I bought my Umayyad Alexandria fals and I needed to give my wallet a bit of a break! Very cool! 

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