A pleasant Standing Caliph coin

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Parthicus, May 28, 2023.

  1. Parthicus

    Parthicus Well-Known Member

    Arab-Byzantine standing caliph Amman.jpg
    Arab-Byzantine. No date, struck c.73-78 AH (693-697 CE). Amman mint. Obverse: Standing Caliph, sheathed sword slung over left side, Arabic inscription around. Reverse: Steps surmounted by transformed cross, star to left, Arabic inscription around. Album 112. This coin: Zurqieh, May 2023.

    As the early Muslim armies swept out of Arabia and into the Sasanian and Byzantine Empires, they soon ran into the problem of what coin types to strike in the newly acquired territories. For the first few decades, most coin types were based on the coins that had previously circulated in that region. Coins struck in Mesopotamia, Persia, and other former Sasanian territory mostly followed Sasanian models, while coins in former Byzantine lands largely followed Byzantine types. The reverse of this coin is based on contemporary Byzantine gold solidi, which featured a cross at the top of several steps. However, since the issuer of this coin is not Christian, the cross has been transformed into... well, I'm not sure exactly what I'd call it, but it is definitely no longer a cross. The obverse type, featuring a standing figure with sword which is thought to represent the Caliph, seems to be novel, and is not closely based on any contemporary Byzantine coin.

    The caliph at the time this coin was struck was 'Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan (65-86 AH/685-705 CE). 'Abd al-Malik succeeded his father Marwan in 685 CE, at a time of turmoil in the Islamic world. The Umayyad Caliphate was having trouble holding onto power, and there were several rival pretenders to the caliphate and other rebellions. This map, borrowed from Wikipedia, shows the various territories under the control of different factions in 686 (the red area is what is solidly under 'Abd al-Malik's control):
    Within a few years, 'Abd al-Malik and his commanders would regain control over the entire Muslim world and take steps to consolidate Umayyad, and Arab, power. He established a major garrison in Wasit to better control southern Iraq, reformed the system of military pensions to reduce expenditures, and made Arabic the sole official language of government to foster unity throughout the Caliphate. He also started the "Post-Reform" coinage of gold dinars and silver dirhams, which replaced the former designs with standardized, simple inscriptions in Arabic lacking in any pictorial images. Bronze coinage was more local, but coins consisting solely of Arabic script quickly became the most common types, too. The Standing Caliph bronzes seem to have ended pretty quickly around 78 CE, right at the time the Post-Reform coins were introduced. This is an interesting coin from a tumultuous period in history, and it was not expensive at $35. Please post whatever coins you have that are related.
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  3. robinjojo

    robinjojo Well-Known Member

    Lovely coin and nice presentation!

    Here's a recent acquisition (2022), which unfortunately has some incipient bronze disease. I have the coin in a distilled water bath. I'll probably treat the coin with Verdicare once I am sure that the corrosive process has been neutralized.

    Arab Byzantine AE fals, standing caliph, falcon left.
    4.18 grams

    D-Camera Arab Byzantine AE fals standing caliph falcon left 4.19 grams 12-20-22.jpg
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  4. Homer2

    Homer2 Member

    I love this coin. Congratulations on a very unique find!
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  5. dltsrq

    dltsrq Grumpy Old Man

    Note that the standing figure on this coin has a cross on his crown and a cross in each hand. The distinguishing feature of the op is that the explicitly Christian figure of the Byzantine emperor on the obverse has finally been replaced with a figure in Arab dress and the name of the reigning caliph 'Abd al-Malik ('abd Allah 'Abd al-Malik amir al-mu'minin / "servant of Allah, 'Abd al-Malik, commander of the faithful").
    Last edited: May 28, 2023
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  6. robinjojo

    robinjojo Well-Known Member

    That's right. My coin is something of a hybrid insofar as Byzantine/Christian symbols are incorporated in the design, compared to the more Islamic character of the OP coin. In this sense my coin cannot be called a standing caliph, a standing figure instead, I suppose.

    Also, because of my coin's mixture of Christian symbols and Arabic legends, I think it was likely produced early in the 73-78 AH timeframe for 'Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan. I am not sure of the mint location though.
  7. GinoLR

    GinoLR Well-Known Member

    It's written on the reverse exergue : دمشق : dimashq = Damascus.

    The standing figure on the obverse can be described as the Byzantine emperor because he cannot be anybody else. And this Byzantine emperor must be Leontius (695-698) because his name is written in Greek : Λ Є Ο
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  8. dltsrq

    dltsrq Grumpy Old Man

    "ΛΕΟ" is almost certainly a blundered "NEOS" transferred from the reverse of the prototype (Constans II). Note that it isn't actually ΛΕΟ at all but "ΛΕΟS" with the S wrapping around the O and incorporated into the hem of the garment. In the prototype, the S is also somewhat misplaced but not as exaggerated as found here. Hoard evidence suggests a date in the 670s or 680s.
    Last edited: May 28, 2023
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  9. Broucheion

    Broucheion Well-Known Member

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  10. svessien

    svessien Senior Member

    Nice coin and great post, @Parthicus
    I also appreciate the info from other members on these coins. The link from @Broucheion was very useful.
    Here's my standing Caliph:

    Last edited: May 29, 2023
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  11. GinoLR

    GinoLR Well-Known Member

    Thanks ! Do you have any references for the hoards? I'd like very much to read about hoards containing arab-byzantine undated fulus.
  12. GinoLR

    GinoLR Well-Known Member

    standing caliph.jpg
    Not very nice, but this is the only standing caliph (Abd al-Malik) in my box... I think the mint could be Qinnasrin, but I'm far from sure.
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