Featured Finally dived into a collecting area I've been looking forward to for a long time

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by ValiantKnight, Aug 31, 2019.

  1. ValiantKnight

    ValiantKnight I AM the Senate! Supporter

    A long-term goal of mine is to collect coins from all of Spain's history up until 1500. Still missing pre-Roman Iberian, and high medieval, but I can happily announce that I achieved a milestone very recently by acquiring, not one, not two, but three coins of Muslim Spain, or in Arabic, al-Andalus (الأندلس). I was not too confident in being able to identify whether a coin advertised as from al-Andalus really was the real deal, but after some research recently into Andalusian coins I decided to take the plunge.

    Al-Hakam I, Emirate of Cordoba
    AR dirham
    Obv: (center, in Arabic) "There is no God but Allah. He has no equal"
    (in margins, in Arabic) “In the name of Allah. this Dirham was struck in al-Andalus in the year six and ninety and one-hundred ” (AH 196)
    Rev: (center, in Arabic) "Allah is One God. The eternal and indivisible, who has not begotten, and has not been begotten and never is there His equal"
    (in margins, in Arabic) “Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. He sent him with guidance and the true religion to reveal it to all religions even if the polytheists abhor it”
    Mint: Cordoba (al-Andalus)
    Date: 811-812 AD
    Ref: Album 340


    Abd-al-Rahman III, Caliphate of Cordoba
    AR dirham
    Obv: (center, in Arabic) "There is no God but Allah. He has no equal"
    (in margins, in Arabic) “In the name of Allah. this Dirham was struck in al-Andalus in the year two and thirty and three-hundred ” (AH 332)
    Rev: (center, in Arabic) "The Imam / al-Nasir Li-Din / Allah Abd al-Rahman / Commander of the Faithful / Qasim"
    (in margins, in Arabic) “Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. He sent him with guidance and the true religion to reveal it to all religions even if the polytheists abhor it”
    Mint: Cordoba (al-Andalus)
    Date: 943-944 AD
    Ref: Album 350


    Abd-al-Rahman III, Caliphate of Cordoba
    AR dirham
    Obv: (center, in Arabic) "There is no God but Allah. He has no equal"
    (in margins, in Arabic) “In the name of Allah. this Dirham was struck in al-Andalus in the year five and thirty and three-hundred ” (AH 335)
    Rev: (center, in Arabic) "The Imam / al-Nasir Li-Din / Allah Abd al-Rahman / Commander of the Faithful / Qasim"
    (in margins, in Arabic) “Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. He sent him with guidance and the true religion to reveal it to all religions even if the polytheists abhor it”
    Mint: Cordoba (al-Andalus)
    Date: 946-947 AD
    Ref: Album 350.5



    The story of al-Andalus begins with the Visigoths, the last and longest lasting of the Germanic conquerors of Roman Hispania. Their rule over the country was relatively prosperous compared to elsewhere in early medieval Europe, but the Visigoths were not without problems; civil wars, conflicts with other barbarian tribes and the Byzantines, and religious strife all occurred throughout their two-and-a-half century long rule over a mostly Hispano-Roman population.

    (Visigothic tremissis of King Sisebut, 612-621 AD)

    (Visigothic Kingdom, 700 AD)

    During the early 8th century, the Visigoths were embroiled in yet another war, with King Roderic facing of against rebellious Basques in the north of the country. By this time, all of Hispania plus Septimania in Gaul was united under Gothic control.

    During the previous century, Islam had united the Arab tribes and driven them to conquer large swaths of territory in the span of a few decades. By the end of the 7th century, the vast Umayyad Caliphate (ruled by the descendants of Umayya ibn Abd Shams) stretched from the Atlantic coast in North Africa all the way to Central Asia and the Hindu Kush.

    (Umayyad Caliphate, 750 AD)

    It is not entirely certain what triggered the Muslims to cross the Strait of Gibraltar and invade Hispania; one story lays the blame on a Count Julian of Ceuta who invited them over as revenge for King Roderic having allegedly raped one of his daughters. If this is the case, then it is also not clear if Julian meant to replace Roderic with Muslim help, or in fact have the country taken over by foreign invaders. It is possible that the Umayyad invasion started simply as one of the regular raids by Berbers from North Africa that snowballed into a full-blown conquest. Whatever the case, the fact remains that in the year 711, the Muslim commander Tariq ibn Ziyad led an invasion force composed of mostly Berbers, who themselves were recently converted to Islam.

    A year later, in 712, the Muslim army met King Roderic and the Visigothic army at the Battle of Guadalete. The battle ended in a crushing Visigothic defeat, and the king killed (his death having possibly been helped by betrayal among some of his forces). His death left the small Visigothic ruling elite in disarray. This disorganization further aided the Muslims.

    (Battle of Guadelate)

    During the next five years, the Muslim armies moved further north and reached Septimania; by this time the Umayyad annexation of Hispania was largely complete (later, the Umayyads in Hispania would become independent when the Abbasids took power over the caliphate). The remaining Christian forces were pushed into a small corner of north-central Hispania, where a Visigothic noble named Pelagius established the Kingdom of Asturias. In 722, an Umayyad force sent to conquer the region was decisively defeated at Covadonga by the Christians, the first victory won against the Muslims after their conquest of Hispania. The Battle of Covadonga marks the beginning of the Reconquista, a nearly-800 year war that would see Christian kingdoms in the north gradually wrest control of Iberia from the forces of Islam, culminating in the conquest of Granada by Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492.

    (Surrender of Muhammad XII, the last Sultan of Granada, to King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella)

    The Muslims called their new land al-Andalus (the origin of the modern name of the Spanish region, Andalusia) , and under their rule, it became one of the richest and most advanced societies in the Middle Ages. Cordoba became the capital, and grew to be the largest city in Europe and a leading center of learning, science, and culture. Religious tolerance was observed (depending on the ruler), as long as non-Muslim religions paid a special tax which also happened to guarantee their protection. Even though they had worked together to take Hispania, ethnic strife was present between Arab Muslims, the high-class ruling elite, and non-Arab, Muslim Berbers. The Muslims built many grand and elaborate buildings and structures based on Arabic and Moorish architecture, one of the most famous examples being the Great Mosque of Cordoba, now the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption.

    (Interior of the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba)

    (The Alhambra, in Granada)
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2019
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  3. ValiantKnight

    ValiantKnight I AM the Senate! Supporter

    Some more pictures:

    (Aerial view of the Cordoba Mosque-Cathedral)

    (Andalusian art)


    (Andalusian soldiers, 10th-11th century AD)

    (Hispania in 750 AD)
  4. ominus1

    ominus1 Well-Known Member

    ..very kool VK...this is a piece made in Iberia i believe..:) iberian swordhhandguard pyrhrus 002.JPG
  5. Orfew

    Orfew Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus Supporter


    A very nice writeup. This is a fascinating area of collecting. Yet another example of how the coins tell a an interesting story. Good luck on finding further additions to your collection.
    ominus1 and bcuda like this.
  6. Ancient Aussie

    Ancient Aussie Supporter! Supporter

    Great write up, an interesting history. Very nice coins,with a great collecting theme.
    ominus1 and bcuda like this.
  7. Parthicus

    Parthicus Well-Known Member

    Very nice! I have just one coin of Islamic Spain, struck by And al-Rahman II and dated 232 AH (846 AD):
    Umayyads of Spain.jpg
  8. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter I dig ancient coins...

    This is a part of history that I was not very familiar with outside of a course I took on Islamic History, which didn't really focus on Andalusia. Nice write-up - thank you!
    ominus1 and bcuda like this.
  9. bcuda

    bcuda Supporter! Supporter

    I found quite a few Muslim Umayyad coins when I was in Spain the 5 years I was there metal detecting.

    I sometimes would go to the Sevillia coiin market on Sunday instead of metal detecting. There would be the normal Coin collectors with tables selling modern to ancient coins. And then there would be the metal detector guys walking around with new finds in their pockets ready to sell, they were kinda of picky to who they would show their finds to. One guy they called El Andalus would buy the Muslim coins and I sold some of mine to Him.

    Here are a few of the ones I dug up. I know nothing at all about them I cant even tell if they are upside down or not.

    Obverse the one to the right is a fouree or fake from time frame I believe.
    IMG_6022 (2).JPG
    reverse side
    IMG_6023 (2).JPG

    IMG_6028 (2).JPG

    IMG_6032 (2).JPG

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Sep 1, 2019
  10. ValiantKnight

    ValiantKnight I AM the Senate! Supporter

    Thanks all for the kind words and cool coins posted!
    Same here. Minored in history and I chose to take an Islamic history course. Was a class I definitely enjoyed and it contributed to increasing my interest and knowledge in Islamic history, which in turn has helped me gain more interest in Islamic coins.
    bcuda and ominus1 like this.
  11. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    Fantastic post, VK, most deserving of featured status!

    I have a father-son combo:

    Screen Shot 2019-09-01 at 4.01.54 PM.jpg
    'Abd al-Rahman III (912-961)
    My notes: "Previous Umayyad rulers in al-Andalus styled themselves as "Emir", indicating at they were at least nominally subject to a higher authority, namely the Abbasid Caliph. 'Abd al-Rahman III, however, felt he was sufficiently powerful and secure that he declared himself Caliph, with the Caliphate based in his capital city of Córdoba. The city also became the intellectual capital of western Europe."

    Screen Shot 2019-09-01 at 4.03.23 PM.jpg
    al-Hakam II (961-976 / AH 350-366), dated AH 356 (966-967), mint: Medina Azahara
    My notes: "al-Hakam II, the second Caliph of Córdoba, was an excellent scholar, which is neat but not too out of the ordinary. What makes this guy particularly amazing as an Islamic caliph is that he was also openly gay, and employed a female mathematician as his personal secretary! This coin was minted in 356 AH in Medina Azahara (on the outskirts of Córdoba), the "Versailles of the Middle Ages" that al-Hakam's father created as the capitol of his new Caliphate."
  12. ominus1

    ominus1 Well-Known Member

    the Islamic peoples have had their moments in the sun, along with Golden ages and have contributed much to western civilization.(both wanted and unwanted:p) i have a few Islamic coins, but not of Iberia..
    bcuda likes this.
  13. Plumbata

    Plumbata Well-Known Member

    Excellent post and interesting coins, I have a small handful of Umayyad Dirhams but am still working on my Greek and am not comfortable even thinking about trying to figure out what they are yet! :D

    I think your goal of collecting all Spanish coins until 1500 is awesome as the land is saturated with lots of rich history, it will certainly keep you occupied for many years and ought to be a rewarding quest.

    In lieu of posting some unidentified silver coins or punic iberians, here are some items that are a bit more up my alley:

    This is the village of Villanueva de San Juan today, a sleepy town in picturesque southern Spain:

    800 years ago, "Spain" as we now know it was still occupied by Moorish invaders, but the tide was turning and the armies of Christ were slowly taking back lands that had been under foreign domination since the 8th century.

    In the 1250s, the Christian military Order of Calatrava campaigned against the Moors who had occupied the vicinity of Villanueva de San Juan and destroyed the Islamic military enclave there, after which the region joined the Order of Calatrava in what became part of the front line between the Christians to the north and entrenched invaders to the south.

    A few small pieces of what at least one side considered to be a Holy Crusade are shown below; hand-carved sandstone catapult balls found barely peeking from the dirt in the vicinity of Villanueva de San Juan, the quiet town in Andalusia whose soil was once soaked in blood:

    The smallest one is 3.14lb

    The largest is 10.22lb

    Such projectiles would likely have been launched from torsion catapults something like this:

    Or from traction trebuchets like illustrated here:

    Since I was a wide-eyed youngster I had always wanted a genuine medieval carved stone catapult ball, but they aren't exactly something you can find at the local flea market! Now I have 5 and may try to get more through my contacts, though the shipping costs are deadly I tell ya!:hungover:

    ...But not as deadly as these flying balls! Assuming a velocity of 100mph and a weight of 10lb, the projectile would have 4536 Joules of kinetic energy, which is about the same as getting blasted with six simultaneous 12 gram rounds from a .357 magnum at point-blank range. Needless to say, the best armor in the world won't allow the unlucky target to get up and walk that one off.

    And not really related but obligatory nonetheless :D:
  14. ValiantKnight

    ValiantKnight I AM the Senate! Supporter

    Hopefully his boss would understand if he never came back :D


    Would love me an ancient/medieval catapult ball (or any other weapon or weapon component; I don’t even have an arrow tip :( ). Thanks for sharing and for the informative post!
    Plumbata likes this.
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