A small group of Byzantine Arab AE Folles from the 7th century AD

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by robinjojo, Oct 23, 2021.

  1. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

    These coins arrived today as a small group lot that I purchased a couple of weeks ago. I have not done any in-depth research on them, but I'm posting them because of their interesting qualities, plus the possibility that other CT member can assist in attributing them.

    1. A seated caliph with an eagle of hawk to the left (definitely not a parakeet).

    I have never seen this type of obverse before, in my limited exploration of this series. I think the general type imitated here is the folles of Constans II, but seated, not standing. As far as I can determine, the obverse legend is TCEO. The reverse legend is ANO to the left, OO(diamond shape) M below and X, retrograde Γʹ, followed by II. The symbol under the M seems to be an A. Chi Rho cross above.

    The strike is quite remarkable for this type. 4.49 grams.

    D-Camera Byzantine-Arab imitation follis 4.49 g  Constans type eagle Isreal 10-21 10-23-21.jpg

    2. An imitation of the seated Justin II/Sophia follis.

    I actually have another example of this imitation, of Nysa - Scythopolis ((Beit Sh'ean, Israel). The price was quite attractive, so I snapped it up as part of the group.

    This coin has the typical obverse for this type. An interesting feature of the reverse is the displaced "O" of "NIKO", moved to the exergue line under the M.

    Again, a nice strike and patina. 12.3 grams.

    D-Camera Byzantine Arab NYSA-SCYTHOPOLIS  AE FALS 12.3g 29mm Israel 10-21 10-23-21.jpg

    3. A standing caliph type.

    This coin has a very clear reverse. I need to decipher the legend.

    3.62 grams.

    D-Camera Byzantine Arab imitation follis standing caliph type 3.62g Isreael 10-21 1023-21.jpg

    4. Another seated caliph.

    This is an unusual coin, at least for me, due to the four dots on the reverse. Are they control marks? Also, there is an Arabic character under the M, with another dot below it. Additionally, there seems to be a palm branch to the right - a fascinating coin in all.

    4.19 grams

    D-Camera Byzantine Arab imitation follis seated caliph 4.19 g Israel 10-21 10-23-21.jpg

    5. An imitation of a follis of Heraclius.

    No doubt this is the crudest follis of the lot. The three standing figures are certainly patterned after the folles of Heraclius, that included his brother and the empress. Other than that, it is hard to make out what is happening on the reverse. The die is clearly undersized, and there seems to be muddled script under the M on the reverse. There might be a Chi Rho cross above the M. Again further scrutiny is needed.

    Could this be one of the folles from Cyprus?

    3.84 grams.

    D-Camera Byzantine Arab imitation follis Heraclius type 3.84g Israel 10-21 10-23-21.jpg

    So, any assistance would be greatly appreciated. Also, please post your Byzantine Arab folles, their Byzantine equivalents and anything else you wish.

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  3. GinoLR

    GinoLR Well-Known Member

    1 : Damascus. Cf : https://www.acsearch.info/search.html?id=1078324
    2 : Scythopolis. Cf. https://www.acsearch.info/search.html?id=5196091
    3 : Amman. Obv. : I read " 'abd Allah 'abd al-Malik" ; rev. legend : La ilah ila Allah wahadu Muhammad rasulillah. Cf : https://www.acsearch.info/search.html?id=2606959 , and https://www.acsearch.info/search.html?id=8085756
    4 : probably a "pseudo-Damascus" mint.
    5 : Tiberias. Cf : https://www.acsearch.info/search.html?id=3330494
    Nice coins ! I don't think that the seated emperor on Damascus coins is the caliph : caliphs are always standing on coins, and do not wear crosses ! I am convinced it is an image of the Christian emperor, very probably Leontius (695-698) as suggested by the obv. legend ΛЄΟ Τ...
  4. dltsrq

    dltsrq Grumpy Old Man

    #1 is the Seated Emperor type, Damascus, Greek legends only. Album 3511.1. The letters in the exergue are actually the mint signature, ΔΑΜ.

    #2 as described in the op, Album 3509.1.

    #3 is a very rare type without mint name, assigned to 'Amman in Jordan on the basis of style. The obverse legend consists of the name and titles of 'Abd al-Malik. The reverse inscription is the Kalima. SICA-1, 716; not in Album.

    #4 is a product of what is known as the "Pseudo-Damascus" mint, probably located in Jordan. Products of this mint are characterized by lots of extra dots and squiggles. Cf. Album 3522.1.

    #5 is a bilingual issue of Tiberias / Tabariyya with the mint name in Greek to the left of the M and in Arabic to the right. Album 3512.

    (I had already typed most of this before I saw the preceding post)
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2021
  5. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

    Thank you so much! I will create labels with this information tomorrow.

    Thank you! This information will be added.

    Your help is greatly appreciated!
  6. Black Friar

    Black Friar Well-Known Member

    Coin 1: Pseudo-Damascus issue, seated calif, hunting falcon on a "T" to left which is normally on a cross. Reverse a large M with year "7" partially blundered as is the chi-ro. The weight is within the norm. It is similar to number 97 in the Catalogue of the Arab Byzantine Coins from the Irbid Hoard. Tony Goodwin and Rika Gyselen published in the Royal Numismatic Society Special Publication NO.53, London 2045. This is a very desirable type.

    Coin 2:
    The seated design of the emperor and empress Justin II and his bride. It is for sure Scythopolis in the Decapolis region (10 Cities) of Bilad al-sham. Andrew Oddy, an independent British scholar has identified it as such. A borrowed design of a Justin II follis. The reverse has the continuation of the Greek polis. The officina is actually a blundered "A" and the year "7" again in Greek numerals. Your 12.3 gr. is quite heavy. This is a good get for you and in quite good shape and the die engraving is excellent. I have only one of these in my collection and very happy to have it.

    Coin 3:
    A standing caliph type. The mint appears to be Halab. Obverse is typical of the variety. On the Reverse? I don't know of any of this type to exhibit a reverse like this.

    Normally the "M" type reverse is not used. It could be a mule of some sort but, it is beyond my library's resource. I don't recall ever seeing a reverse with the "M" style on and issue with the standing Caliph obverse. It is puzzling for sure.
    If you can send me a copy through the membership email facility. I personally know
    the folks who catalogue this material in England and Germany I could send it to them.
    I'm sure they will be able to address this as a mule. In any case I suspect it might be a discovery piece. I was excited when I saw your image.

    Hopefully someone else who collect Arab/Byz coins might be able to assist.

    Coin 4: Crude yes, but a fun coin. It is a pseudo-Damascus standing Caliph issue that has many reverses similar to your coin. Where your dots are in the M there a often double dots, stars and other such devices. I notice what seems like a palm frond to the right of the M. It's a very cool coin as well.

    Coin 5: It isn't an issue of Cyprus. The inscription is the wrong style. The date on those is usually year 17 and quite bold at that and mint mark is KYP. It is probably an issue of Tiberius (Tabariyya). The coin is heavily warn.

    I hope this helps, and I hope others can step in on this. You really have a good eye for different styles, you would fit in well with us Arab/Byz junkies. Thanks so much for your post.
  7. Black Friar

    Black Friar Well-Known Member

    It took me a bit of time to get this posted. I'm so happy others jumped in. We all
    learn from each other.
  8. Black Friar

    Black Friar Well-Known Member

    Coin #2 Update: A few hours after I posted my thoughts on robinjojo's post I did a little more investigating. On Plate I of John Walkers work A Calogue of the Arab-Byzantine and Post Reform Umaid Coins by John Walker I found this type along with three others.

    While much has transpired since this work was published Price's catalogue is still
    relevant as a source. Fortunately we have all benefitted from his early work. I am
    happy I have a copy.

    Hopefully I'll have some time to post a few of my finds at a recent coin show in Tuck willa, WA.
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  9. Broucheion

    Broucheion Well-Known Member

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  10. dltsrq

    dltsrq Grumpy Old Man

    While Walker is still the standard reference for Umayyad post-reform fulus, it is outdated and not as useful for understanding the Arab-Byzantine series. Caution advised.

    The 3rd edition of Steve Album's Checklist has a useful outline of the pre-reform coinage and is available as a free download at the author's website. There is also a good Arab-Byzantine section at Zeno.

    The following published references come to mind. Foss is very basic but readily available, inexpensive and probably the best bet for those new to the series. There is really no "standard reference" which may in part explain how such an interesting series remains below the radar of most collectors.

    Bone, Harry (2005), The Administration of Umayyad Syria: the evidence of the copper coins, PhD Thesis - Princeton University.

    Album, Stephen and Tony Goodwin (2002), Sylloge of Islamic Coins in the Ashmolean, Volume 1: The Pre-Islamic Reform Coinage of the Early Islamic Period, Oxford.

    Foss, Clive (2008), Arab-Byzantine Coins. An Introduction, with a Catalogue of the Dumbarton Oaks Collection, Washington.
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2021
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  11. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    Wow, falcon, Scythopolis, Amman and Tiberias in the same lot :woot::woot::woot::woot:
    +VGO.DVCKS and robinjojo like this.
  12. Black Friar

    Black Friar Well-Known Member

    From one grumpy old man to another, I agree, Foss' book is excellent for beginning collectors. I still grab it once in awhile for a quick look. I certainly recommend
    the work of Goodwin and Album. It was the first work I found and purchased
    for my library regarding Arab/Byz coinage. It's always the first reference I grab

    Another source is Academia.com. I can down load academic research papers.
    Check it out as there are so many published works on that site in this area. The downloads are free. I opted into a subscription as one can contact an author regarding their published works in the academic research. It is an invaluable site.

    It opens so many numismatic research windows and doors from folks like the Schultzes' Tony Goodwin, Cecille Morisson, and many more. One can actually contact them regarding their work. All are generous with their findings. I consider them friends.

    On a purely Byzantine subject I have attached a really fun military mint issue of
    Maurice Tiberius I hope you all enjoy. Cheers to all.

    Attached Files:

  13. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

    Yes, it was a nice lot to purchase. The seller for a few months had the Scythopolis follis listed separately at $600, as I recall. Then he combined it as part of a lot, which I was able to purchase at $390, plus tax, so the total of $435.59 with shipping.

    While the Scythopolis is a very nice example, and the second one that I have, the Damascus follis with the hawk was the coin I focused on.

    This is the second Scythopolis follis, in a different style from the first one I posted, with the Arabic counterstamp on the obverse, bottom, Arabic طيب (good). The counterstamp flattened the mint name on the reverse, so I am not sure what it is. There seems to be an "X" as the final letter.

    D-Camera Arab-Byzantine Fals, Imitating JustinII, Gerasa, 5-14-20.jpg
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  14. Black Friar

    Black Friar Well-Known Member

    Looks like it might be a follis of Justin I, Antioch. Several do end with an X from that mint. That lot was quite a score, Congrats.
  15. Black Friar

    Black Friar Well-Known Member

    By the way the MIB catalogue numbers are 1-4. Sear # is 379 variety.
  16. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

    Yes, there are similarities with the seated folles of Justin II and Sophia, but stylistically that coin is quite different. Also, as far as I can see, the obverse legend doesn't seem to correspond to what would be expected, D N IVSTI -NVS P P AVI. On the reverse the style of the cross is unlike what one would normally see, more of "+" configuration. Also, the folles of Antioch during Justin II's reign had THEUP in the exergue, as far as I know.

    So, I am inclined to attribute the coin to Scythopolis, with the Arab counterstamp applied after the minting, probably as a means to increase its acceptance by the public.

    Here's a Justin II/Sophia follis from my collection, for comparison.

    D-Camera Justin II and Sophia  follis, CON, Year 1,  556-66 AD officina B SB360 13.0g  01-20-21.jpg
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2021
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  17. FitzNigel

    FitzNigel Medievalist Supporter

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  18. seth77

    seth77 Well-Known Member

    Could you please post some more pics of the falcon? It is fast becoming one of my favorite coins -- such imagery, the LEO legend and the preservation are all great.
  19. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

    Here's a closeup of the center of the obverse:

    D-Camera Byzantine Arab imitation follis seated caliph hawk detail 10-26-21.jpg

    And a closeup of the bird:

    D-Camera Byzantine Arab imitation follis seated caliph More hawk detail 10-26-21.jpg

    The bird does have a long beak, perhaps a cross between a hawk and a humming bird? Seriously, though, there seems to be a suggestion of a crest, but perhaps not, so maybe a peacock?
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  20. Pavlos

    Pavlos You pick out the big men. I'll make them brave!

    Very nice additions @robinjojo! The Islamic coinage imitating the Byzantines is also a topic I would like to dive deeper into in the future, so I can't help you further with these coins.
    As an interesting note I did read that the moment the Byzantines started to include Jesus on their coinage that the Islamic coinage also underwent a drastic change as well, as godly imaginary is forbidden in the Islam, so obviously they didn't want to imitate anymore.
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  21. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

    Yes, depictions of Jesus and Mary appeared on Byzantine bronze and gold coinage, while the Islamic coins, in keeping the Muslim iconoclasm which prohibited of any images, secular or non-secular, lacked images in favor of calligraphic legends.

    There is one notable exception, though. During the 11th and 12th centuries, the Turkoman figural bronze coinage displayed all sorts of images, both human, animal, zodiacal, and mythological, along with Turkmen Arabic inscriptions. This subspecialty of Islamic coinage is a world of its own and fascinating to study and collect.
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2021
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