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An Abbasid AR Dirham from the rule of al-Mu'tasim


zanzi

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I recently bought this coin as unidentified and of poor images, so I was pleased to find it was issued by a ruler I was unaware of. I'm not particularly well versed on Islamic kingdoms or coins but I had an Abbasid dirham in the past which I regretfully sold so it was something that I had always wanted to get back. Never mind that this is a "budget" coin- it has a nice spot in my collection. I put it on the oriental database site zeno.ru (329010) and one user even managed to find an obverse die-link for me!

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Abbasid Caliphate

al-Mu'tasim at the Madinat al-Salam mint

Dated 225AH = 840/841 AD

AR Dirham

 

The named ruler on the coin, al-Mu'tasim, was the eighth caliph of the Abbasid. His name means "'He who seeks refuge in God". He was a son of the more famous Abbasid caliph Harun al-Rashid. Byzantine enthusiasts may recognize the name al-Mu'tasim as he is the one who personally led the Abbasid armies to siege, sack, and raze the great Byzantine city of Amorium in 838, only two or three years prior to my coin being minted. Maybe this coin was minted from the loot and wealth of the poor Byzantine city.

The coin was minted at Madinat al-Salam, commonly called the Round City of Baghdad. The Abbasid Caliphate had designated Baghdad, before a relatively unimportant site on the Tigris River, to be the new capital of the empire. It quickly grew into an incredible center of Islamic civilization. It was given an impressive round wall, hence the "round city" part of the name. Below is a picture of the site along the river.

749px-Baghdad_150_to_300_AH.png (749×600)

 

I'd be interested to see any other Abbasid coins or anything related to this coin or period. 

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I would not like to see a plea for some Abbasid coins go unanswered.  These are my contributions.  Both coins have been posted before.

The first coin is a dinar of al-Rashid 786-809 AD of year 185 AH, (801-802 AD) citing Ja’far as governor of Egypt on the reverse.    Haroun al Rashid was caliph contemporaneously with Charlemagne, who sent al Rashid an emissary recorded as “Isaac the Jew.”  The Caliph sent the Emperor gifts including an elephant which arrived in Aachen in 802 AD.   The vendor of this coin was not recorded.

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The second coin is a multiple dinar of the last Abbasid caliph, al-Musta’sim 1242-1258 AD, of 645 AH (1247-8 AD) MWI 266.  This coin’s mass is 13.22 grams, exactly 3 times the mass of the theoretical dinar of 4.4 grams which equaled the Byzantine Solidus.  Of the 18 specimens on Zeno, this outweighs them all.  https://www.zeno.ru/showgallery.php?cat=5605   Triton XX had an example which was 14.77 grams, and I have heard they range up to 20 grams, but coins that size must be rare. Minted in the capitol, Medinat-as-Salam (Baghdad).  In 1258 AD, the Mongols sacked the city and executed al-Musta’sim.  Various stories are told of his death, including his being wrapped in a carpet and trampled by an elephant, to avoid shedding royal blood.  Purchased in Boston in the early 1990’s from an unrecorded seller.

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23 minutes ago, Hrefn said:

dinar of al-Rashid

...heck, i reckon having a coin of the man who inspired 'The Thousand and One Nights'"..is a good thing!...i even have one of those  🙂 (and finally dug it out to take a pic ^^) 

 

dirham of Harun al-Rashid...

Al Rashid dirham.jpg

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Here's an early Abbasid dirham, the lovely Kufic script style is more typical of Umayyad coinage but the coin is definitely Abbasid, based on both the clear date and the reverse inscription being the second half of the kalima "Muhammad is the messenger of God".  This coin is anonymous but has the date 145 AH (762/3 CE), placing it during the reign of the caliph al-Mansur (136-158 AH/ 754-775 CE), the second Abbasid caliph and founder of Madinat al-Salam (City of Peace) a.k.a. Baghdad.  This coin, however, is from the much scarcer mint of Arminiyah (Armenia):

image.jpeg.27c29e8ec295721635ecb5f27dd03bd1.jpeg

 

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On 2/27/2024 at 10:28 AM, Hrefn said:

image.png.f52e140b32f4cef90e5c295783cce8e4.png

I have little to add except, WOW! The multiple dinar is really something special, both of these coins are exquisite.

On 2/27/2024 at 11:18 AM, ominus1 said:

dirham of Harun al-Rashid...

Al Rashid dirham.jpg

This is very close to the first Abbasid dirham which I regretfully sold! The style is very nice, it's a great coin. Your piece has some nice toning on it.

On 2/27/2024 at 3:56 PM, Parthicus said:

This coin, however, is from the much scarcer mint of Arminiyah (Armenia):

image.jpeg.27c29e8ec295721635ecb5f27dd03bd1.jpeg

I don't know much about the various regional styles but this has an interesting appearance unlike most Abbasid coins I've seen. Neat, thank you for sharing.

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On 2/29/2024 at 12:29 PM, Sol_Invictus said:

An Abbasid AE fals from the time of al-Mansur (AH 148 = 765 - 766 CE), Khazanat Halab mint, Album 289, ex. Wayne G. Sayles, ex James Theseelius Collection.

Abbasid_Fals_AlMansur_Combined.jpg.368be01aceb404e5e0afd8a1b617d0e0.jpg

And of course, this is a neat one too! Nice provenance behind it.

 

I do have a bronze Abbasid coin to share, as well. It has a very odd cut flan. I was lucky to get ID help on Zeno for this one.

image.png.e39f0c9a789f1009eaad2669dcdcae88.png

Abbasid Caliphate

Undated but circa 143 AH = 760/761 AD

al-Jazira (The Island) Mint

In the name of al-Abbas b Mohammad, governor of al-Jazirah, during the era of al-Mansur

The name al-Jazirah refers to the land between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers

Album #304, Zeno.ru 329056

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