Arab-Sasanian coin from a rebel Caliphate

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Parthicus, Oct 16, 2021.

  1. Parthicus

    Parthicus Well-Known Member

    Arab-Sasanian Umar ibn Ubaydallah.jpg
    Arab-Sasanian. Zubayrid Caliphate. AR drachm. Umar ibn Ubaydallah, governor, dated 70 AH (689 AD). Bishapur mint. Obverse: Sassanian-Style bust based on Khusro II, name of governor in Arabic before, Arabic inscription in margin "lillah al-hamd" (To God the Praiseworthy). Reverse: Sasanian-style reverse of fire-altar with two attendants, to right mintmark in Pahlavi (Persian) script BYSh (Bishapur), to left year 70 in Pahlavi. Album 21. This coin: Frank S. Robinson Auction 116, lot 244 (2021).

    There is very little information on the governor Umar ibn Ubaydallah, who issued this coin. What's more interesting is the leader in whose name Umar ibn Ubaydallah ruled, as his name does not appear in the standard lists of Umayyad caliphs.

    Abdallah ibn al-Zubayr was born in 624 AD in Medina, and was reportedly the first child born to the earliest wave of Muslim converts who had fled from Mecca to Medina. He also had numerous family ties to leading early Muslims, including to Muhammad. Ibn al-Zubayr had a successful military career in the early expansion of Islam, particularly in North Africa and northern Iran. While he did not oppose Mu'awiya's ascension to the Caliphate (the start of the Umayyad Caliphate), in 680 he refused to recognize Mu'awiya's chosen successor and son Yazid, as he did not think the caliphate should be hereditary. Ibn al-Zubayr fled to Mecca, while another rebel, Husayn ibn Ali, fought against Yazid's forces at Karbala and was killed. (The martyrdom of Husayn is a key event for Shia Muslims to this day.) In 683, Ibn al-Zubayr seized control of Mecca and gathered allies from other parts of Arabia. Yazid sent forces against Ibn al-Zubayr, but Yazid's death in late 683 led to the soldiers withdrawing. Yazid's son and successor died just a few months later, leading to a period of confusion known as the Second Muslim Civil War. Ibn al-Zubayr proclaimed himself Caliph, and was acclaimed as such in much of the Muslim world. This map shows the areas giving allegiance to Ibn al-Zubayr in green (map courtesy Wikipedia):
    However, by 685 the Umayyad caliphate had started to recover under Marwan I, and Zubayrid control outside of Arabia was largely in name only. Ibn al-Zubayr refused to leave the city of Mecca to lead from a more militarily advantageous locale, which harmed his long-term prospects, and his provincial governors were virtually independent. Umayyad troops finally killed Ibn al-Zubayr at Mecca in 692, ending this short-lived caliphate. This is an interesting and very historical coin, and not particularly rare despite the short-lived nature of the issuing authority. Please post whatever coins you have that are related.
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  3. happy_collector

    happy_collector Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the background information. I have always been wondering about the history behind. :)
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