Medieval Africa - The Kilwa Coins of Sultan al-Ḥasan ibn Sulaymān in their Historical Context

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by FitzNigel, Jun 7, 2020.

  1. FitzNigel

    FitzNigel Medievalist Supporter

    The below article originally appeared in Koinon: The International Journal of Classical Numismatics, Volume I. I have been assured by @Nicholas Molinari that after a year had passed since its publication, I was free to disperse my work as I pleased, and of course I wanted to share with CoinTalk! I’ve added a couple of little things to this article (mostly images), but also an addendum at the end for those who have already read the original. But as always, any additional thoughts or feedback are greatly appreciated! And fair warning to you all – this is a long one!

    The history of sub-Saharan Africa is one which is not well known before the coming of the European age of exploration. This is primarily due to a lack of written sources, as many African societies preserved their histories as oral stories and traditions, rather than through writing. While this would have the benefit of kings being able to control information (via their court historians), it has left us with a lack of reliable source material. The oral stories can be used, but only with extreme caution (think of them as a generations-long telephone game, and one can understand how oral tales can be problematic). However, some of East Africa’s oral traditions, which were recorded in the 16th century, have been confirmed by numismatics.

    The principle territories mentioned in the article. Adapted from G. S. P. Freeman-Grenville, The East African Coast: Select Documents from the First to the Earlier Nineteenth Century (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1962), facing page 1.

    In 1936, John Walker recognized a type of Islamic coin found in East Africa as having been minted in the region, rather than simply deposited there over the course of trade.[1] The names on many of the coins corresponded with the Sultans of Kilwa as recorded in a 16th century Portuguese record of Kilwa's oral history and in a similar Arabic history.[2] Some of the coins also contained the names of sultans not found in the recorded histories. The logical conclusion was that the coins of Kilwa have revealed new sultans otherwise unknown from their oral histories, but it has also been determined by Freeman-Grenville that Mogadishu also issued coins in a similar vein, and other East African mints have since been recognized.[3]

    Of all the coins minted in East Africa, those of Kilwa Kisiwani, and specifically from Sultan al-Ḥasan ibn Sulaymān, seem to be the most common. While all of the medieval coins of East Africa are rare, the issues of al-Ḥasan ibn Sulaymān are by far the most numerous from the few recorded hoards available. In the hoards looked at by Walker, those attributed to al-Ḥasan ibn Sulaymān were twice in number than any other coin, and Freeman-Grenville had similar results from a hoard at Kilwa Masoko and from the collection of the King George V Memorial Museum in Dar es-Salaam.[4] The coins pictured below are typical of the coins of Kilwa, as few have survived in good form, and often the legends are not fully visible, but only reconstructed by looking at multiple coins. The legends are often surrounded by a single circle, a double circle, or a solid and beaded circle. There is often a star or some other mark in the center of the reverse, and the legend on the obverse rhymes with the reverse: a distinctive feature of the coins of Kilwa. The Kilwa Chronicles provide us with the names of many of the sultans, and it seems the naming conventions favored reusing several names with the epithet of being the sons to their fathers. As such, there are some four sultans with the name of al-Ḥasan ibn Sulaymān (one of whom reigned twice). The coins themselves contain no dates, and the chronicles are also of no use when it comes to dating.[5] Walker initially attributed these coins to al-Ḥasan ibn Sulaymān who reigned twice in the fifteenth century.[6] His reasoning was that the legend containing the phrase "may his victory be prosperous" found on some of al-Ḥasan ibn Sulaymān's coins first occurred on a Mamluk coin of 1388, meaning al-Ḥasan ibn Sulaymān’s coins must come later. By 1966, a coin from the early fourteenth century had been found with this same phrase, making it acceptable to attribute the Kilwa coins to al-Ḥasan ibn Sulaymān of 1310-1333.[7] Regardless of other issuers utilizing the phrase, neither Walker nor Freeman-Grenville offer any support as to why a precedent must be found for the use of “may his victory be prosperous” on a more cosmopolitan coin before it could be found in Kilwa. As shown below, Kilwa had many outside contacts, and if Kilwa was capable of the innovation of rhyming obverse and reverse, it could certainly be capable of originating the use of the phrase, and it being accepted and used by others. Additionally, the two Kilwa chronicles note that al-Ḥasan ibn Sulaymān of the fourteenth century had conquered Mafia Island and performed other glorious deeds, which may indicate him being a beloved king and one whose coins may have survived as being immobilized.[8] This may explain why al-Ḥasan ibn Sulaymān's coins exist in such abundance compared to other Sultans from Kilwa.

    Med-19b-Kil-1310-Hasan Sulayman-Fal-616.jpg
    East Africa - Kilwa Sultanate
    al-Hasan ibn Sulayman, r. 1310-1333
    Kisiwani mint, AE Fals, 20.13 mm x 2.2 grams
    Obv.: احسن بن / سليمان / عزذصز (al-Hasan ibn / Sulaiman / yathiku (May his victory be glorious!)). Inscription in three lines
    Rev.: يتق / بالواحل / النان (trusts / in the One (God) / the Bountiful). Inscription in three lines
    Ref.: SICA 10, #616, Freeman-Grenville 1954, pg. 223 no. xv, Walker obv: XVII, Rev.: XXIII, Album 1183
    Note: Found on Kilwa Island in 1982

    Med-19b-Kil-1310-Hasan Sulayman-Fal-621.jpg
    East Africa - Kilwa Sultanate
    al-Ḥasan b. Sulaymān, r. 1310-1333
    Kisiwani mint, AE Fals, 22.6 mm x 1.7 grams
    Obv.: احسن بن / سليمان / عزذصز (al-Hasan ibn / Sulaiman / yathiku (May his victory be glorious!)). Inscription in three lines, inside solid and beaded circle
    Rev.: يتق / بالواحل / النان (trusts / in the One (God) / the Bountiful). Inscription in three lines, inside solid and beaded circle
    Ref.: SICA 10, #621, Freeman-Grenville 1954, pg. 223 no. xiv, Walker obv: XVII, Rev.: XXIII, Album 1183, Zeno 88537
    Note: Found on Kilwa island in 1982

    These two coins are typical of those struck in Kilwa. The strike is not always even, and the coins are often corroded. The Arabic script can be in a fine or coarse style, and the inscription can be found surrounded by a solid circle, two solid circles, or sometimes a beaded circled (an octolobe is known as well). A further third coin was featured in the original article, but was sold at AMCC Auction #2, lot 368 on November 9, 2019. It was excluded here only because of the limit of 10 pictures per post.

    The major debate that surrounds the numismatics of Kilwa is how to utilize these coins to help establish a chronology of the Kilwa Sultans. There is only one written source so far known that establishes a fixed date of a Kilwa Sultan, and this comes from the Moroccan traveler Ibn Battuta. We know the dates of Ibn Battuta’s travels, and he names the current Sultan of Kilwa when he visited the island as "Abu al-Muzaffar Hasan surnamed Abu al-Mawahib [the Father of Gifts] on account of his numerous charitable Gifts."[9] The Arabic chronicle of Kilwa names a sultan from the al-Mawahib family who had issued coins, and this was al-Hasan Ibn Talut. al-Hasan Ibn Talut was succeeded by the man who gives the name to the lineage: Abu al-Mawahib al-Ḥasan ibn Sulaymān al-Mat'un ibn Hasan ibn Talut al-Mahdali.[10] The Portuguese record only lists the name "Hocen Soleiman" who was succeeded by his grandson of the same name, who was then succeeded by his brother “Hacen Ben Daut.”[11] Unfortunately the Arabic Chronicle contains a lacuna (missing portion) which skips over the history of this sultan and skips to his grandson of the same name.[12] There was a chance find of a gold coin with the name of al-Ḥasan ibn Sulaymān, but it also contained his laqab, or descriptive surname. The laqab was al-Mawahib, confirming that the sultan Ibn Battuta visited was one who issued coins.[13] We can surmise from the other descriptions of al-Ḥasan ibn Sulaymān that he was likely the sultan whom Ibn Battuta described.

    Ibn Battuta was certainly not the only person outside Africa to visit the Swahili coast. Freeman-Grenville recorded a major hoard of Chinese coins found in Zanzibar which all date to the Northern Song Dynasty. [14] There are no Chinese documents that record a visit to East Africa excepting the voyages of Zheng He.[15] While Zheng He's voyages occurred long after the fall of the Northern Song (between 1405 and 1433/5, or 278 years after the Northern Song), an edict of 1219 forbade the exportation of current coins, which would mean earlier issues may have been exchanged as trade items.[16] There are a few Chinese sources before the Ming which show knowledge of East Africa and their trade goods (as well as their connections to the Arabs), but no definitive proof that the Chinese had visited the island.[17] Likely China gained their knowledge of Africa from India. India and Sri Lanka would have had ties to East Africa as well, but very few coins from this region so far have been found in Africa (only about 4 coins from Sri Lanka have been recorded in East African hoards, all dating to the 12th and 13th centuries).[18]

    Anc-13-Ch-k1102-Hui Zong-Z10-16-408.jpg
    Northern Song China
    Hui Zong, r. 1101-1125 (1102-1106)
    AE 10 Zhu, 35mm x 10.5 grams
    Obv.: 崇宁重宝 Chong Ning Zhong Bao. Li script
    Rev.: Blank
    Ref.: Hartill 16.408

    Anc-06-Cey-k1271-Vijaya Bahu IV-Kah-848.jpg
    Vijaya Bahu IV, r. 1271-1274
    AE Kahavanu, 20mm x 4 grams
    Obv.: King Standing facing right, holding lotus with altar, flame, and pellets in fields
    Rev.: Devanagari Legend Sri Vi ja ya Ba hu right. King reclining right, holding sankh
    Ref.: [Mitchiner, Non-Islamic 848-9]

    While the above two coins were not found in Africa, they are representative of types that have been discovered along the Swahili coast, indicating the wide trading network in which East Africa had been involved.

    Perhaps more known to a western audience is the traveler Marco Polo who claimed to have visited the islands of Madagascar and Zanzibar. His description seems more likely to be Mogadishu instead of Madagascar, and the name 'Zanzibar' may have been a general term for the whole of the Swahili coast (just as the Arabs would call the whole area the 'land of the Zanj').[19] It is difficult to say with certainty that Polo visited the region, as his description includes the people of Zanzibar fighting on the backs of elephants, which was more likely to have happened in India than Africa (since African elephants cannot be tamed), and perhaps this was an embellishment by Rusticello of Pisa, Polo’s co-author. However, it would be entirely possible that Polo could have come by this region on his return trip to Europe. There had long been an established trade route between India and East Africa following the monsoon winds. As the winds blew in only one direction for six months out of the year, merchants would be forced to stay in the region they sailed to until the winds shifted. As such, the kings or sultans were keen on providing luxurious accommodations for these merchants in order to keep their business.

    The Great Mosque is an example of one of the accommodations provided for Arab traders on Kilwa. While in ruins now, the above picture shows that much of it is still standing. It is currently a UNESCO protected site. Original image here.

    Of the goods sold from Kilwa and other East African states, gold was perhaps the most sought. Through a series of marriage alliances, the Sultans of Kilwa established a trade connection with the Zimbabwean interior where gold was mined in abundance. Most of the traveler-records speak of the usual ivory and animal hides that were gained from this region, and it seems the area was known for these goods as far back as the second century A.D.[20] The region also had a thriving slave trade, particularly with the Caliphate. At the earliest, we can point to a Muslim presence in East Africa in the 8th to 10th centuries, and the evidence comes from the find of silver coins from Shanga, on Pate Island. Helen Brown attributed these different coins to the 8th and 10th centuries based on epigraphic style and location in the archaeological dig.[21] While the Sultans of Kilwa claimed a Persian descent, interactions between East Africa and Arabs was so extensive that the native Bantu language would combine with Arabic to create the modern language of Swahili. The trade between East Africa and Arabia would thrive for centuries, and the Abbasid Caliph in Baghdad relied on Zanj slaves to work his fields. However, the trade for Zanj slaves would be severely harmed due to the Zanj rebellion in Baghdad between 869-883.[22] This rebellion would aid in fracturing the Abbasid Caliphate, ending its golden age, and also caused the Muslim world to stop purchasing slaves from East Africa in abundance.

    A 13th century manuscript depicting African slaves in the Arab world. Original image here.

    While there have been the rare gold and silver coins minted in East Africa, it seems the vast majority of their monetary trade was in copper coins. When the Portuguese came and sacked Kilwa in 1505, the author who recorded Francisco d'Aleida's attack noted that "They have copper coins like our ceptis, ... [and t]here are no gold coins.”[23] The ceptis is currently known as the ceitil. The name derives from Ceuta which, ironically, was the name of a castle captured by the Portuguese in 1415 which marked the beginning of their expansion into Western Africa.[24] The ceitil is a hammered copper coin of about the same size and weight as the Kilwa copper coins, and it depicts the castle Ceuta on one side, and the other contains the traditional arms of the Portuguese kings (the shields of the five Moorish kings defeated by Alfonso the Great at the battle of Ourique in 1139).[25] Our anonymous author of the sack of Kilwa also states that its coins had the same purchasing power as the ceitil.[26]

    Med-06-P-1495-Manuel I-C-3-1*.jpg
    Manuel I, r. 1495-1521
    AE Ceitil, 18.06 mm x 1.4 grams, Group 3.1
    Obv.: +IEMANVEL R.P.ET.A. N retrograde. 3rd type shield containing Portuguese coat of arms, annulet left, top, and right
    Rev.: +I:EMANVEL.[R.P.ET.A.]. N retrograde. Group 3.1 castle with high open outside wall castle over convex sea
    Ref.: MEC 6-1130

    Manuel I would rule Portugal when Vasco da Gama would first sail past the Swahili coast, and when Francisco d’Aleida sacked the city in 1505.

    While there may be more than can be learned about East Africa from its coinage, the hopes that they can establish a firm genealogy of the sultans may not be possible. The dating of these coins is precarious, and arguments have been made, as recently as 2010, that many types were immobilized, and potentially minted and circulated for centuries (much like some of the cash coins of China).[27] As such, the precise date of the coins of al-Ḥasan ibn Sulaymān may never be known, but they are at least representative of the sultanate that existed in Kilwa when Ibn Battuta visited in the fourteenth century, and possibly when Marco Polo visited in the late thirteenth century. This would place them in the center of a world-wide trading system stretching from Europe to China, even if the coins themselves did not see extensive use abroad.[28]

    Addendum/Update to the original

    The above article ended with a footnote regarding the find of Kilwa coins outside of Africa. The footnote said: “Most found abroad have been in Oman, and there were a few found in Australia in 2013 which caused a stir in the media, but no proof that this was a result of trade connections between Kilwa and Australia.” Not soon after I wrote this, a further development occurred regarding the Kilwa coins and Australia. Firstly, another Kilwa coin was found in Australia in 2018, and the article by the ABC actually used an image of one of my coins in the article. I made a post about this on CoinTalk here; soon after the article came to my attention I contacted the ABC to discuss payment for the use of my image (my wife used to work in publishing rights and figured it was worth a shot – the ABC quickly took the image down, and thus can no longer been found in the article). A year later the coin find continued to make headlines internationally as the Past Masters (who found the coin) were attempting to further validate the coin as actually being from Kilwa: complete with using a CT Scan to identify the coin (You can read the original article here). I appreciate the caution, and think the explanation posed by Mike Owen in the Guardian Article makes the most sense: it was brought and lost by the Portuguese, or some other European people and washed ashore on Australia.

    However, there was also another interesting article I came upon soon after these. Heather Dalton wrote an article titled “How did a cockatoo reach 13th century Sicily?” which was published on but was originally published by the University of Melbourne’s blog Pursuit. The basic gist of this article is that king Frederick II of Sicily (and Holy Roman Emperor) was such a bird fancier, that he was gifted a “crested talking parrot” by the “Sultan of Babylon.” An image of this bird was recorded in a book on Falconry that Frederick wrote for his son, which was heavily illustrated, and survives in the Vatican library.

    From the Vatican Library,, 20v. 21r. The latin inscription next to the cockatoo on 20v. reads “Psitta-cus” or “parrot.”

    Med-14-Sic-1243-Frederick II-D-Brindisi-555.jpg
    Kingdom of Sicily
    Frederick II, r. 1197-1250 (1243)
    Brindisi Mint, BL Denari, 18.64 mm x .07 grams
    Obv.: +F●ROM●IPR’●SeP●AVG. Bare head right.
    Rev.: +R●IERSL’●ET SICIL’. Eagle facing with head r.
    Ref.: MEC 14.555-7

    I purchased this Denari when I first head of Frederick's manual on hunting with birds independently of the article by Heather Dalton. The amount of detail of the eagle on the reverse I thought to be impressive, considering the bird's plumage was visible, and I wondered if this might have been due to Frederick's influence. I had once before searched through the manuscript, but saw no similar image (as I am wondering if the bird itself is not an eagle but something else. No luck so far...)

    So why is the cockatoo and Frederick II important to all of this? The cockatoo is an indigenous species of Australia, and if one could have been gifted to the Holy Roman Emperor in the 13th century, then that certainly suggests there were some trade connections to Northern Australia or New Guinea and the surrounding islands. Which also means it is plausible that coins from Kilwa could have ended up in Australia during the time of Sultan al-Ḥasan ibn Sulaymān or soon after, and were not necessarily deposited by the Portuguese at a later period. However, I would still exercise caution. The theory of later European deposition of African coins in Australia by accidental use as ballast is still more likely; but there may be the possibility of some medieval African connections further afield in the Indian Ocean.

    [1] Walker, John. "The History and Coinage of the Sultans of Kilwa." NC Fifth Series. Volume 16, Number 61 (1936), pp. 44-81.

    [2] João de Barros, "The Expedition of Dom Francisco d'Almeida 1505," in G. S. P. Freeman-Grenville, The East African Coast: Select Documents from the First to the Earlier Nineteenth Century (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1962), 80-104 (Hereafter, EAC); "An Arabic History of Kilwa Kisiwani c. 1520," EAC, 34-49. The rather contentious debate that sprung between G. S. P. Freeman-Grenville and H. Neville Chittick on the Coins and Sultans of Kilwa also delved into which of these sources was the more accurate and preferred. Both have their issues, as de Barros paraphrases much of the history, and likely did not know the language, so he may have relied on a translator. However, he was writing in the 16th century, whereas the Arabic history may have been a direct copy of the source de Barros used, but made in the 19th century, and contains many errors of omission. The omissions may have been in the original by the time our copyist made his edition. See G. S. P. Freeman-Grenville, "Coin Finds and Their Significance for Eastern African Chronology," in NC, Seventh Series, vol. 11 (1971), 283-301 and H. Neville Chittick, "On the Chronology and Coinage of the Sultans of Kilwa," in NC, vol. 13 (1973), 192-200.

    [3] G. S. P. Freeman-Grenville, "Coins from Mogadishu, c. 1300 to c. 1700," in NC, vol. 3 (1963), 183; Stephen Album, SICA, vol. 10 (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 1999).

    [4] Walker, “History and Coinage,” 44; G. S. P. Freeman-Grenville, “A New Hoard and Some Unpublished Variants of the Coins of the Sultans of Kilwa,” in NC vol. 14, no. 44 (1954), 220-1. Fleisher and Wynne-Jones provide a concise chart of the known hoards with the percentages of issues arranged by sultan. Of those that can be identified, al-Ḥasan ibn Sulaymān is either the most numerous, or is tied for most numerous in all but two hoards. Jeffrey Fleisher and Stephanie Wynne-Jones, "Kilwa-type Coins from Songo Mnara, Tanzania: New Finds and Chronological Implications," in NC, vol. 170 (2010), 502.

    [5] Both the Portuguese and Arabic chronicles record some of the lengths of the sultans' reigns, but do not establish the first year the sultans came to Kilwa.

    [6] Walker, "History and a Coinage," 45.

    [7] Freeman-Grenville (1971), 299.

    [8] de Barros, EAC, 90-1 which describes the wealth of the sultans due to their connections to Sofala and the Zimbabwean gold trade. "Arabic History," EAC 38-9. Indeed, an inscription was found in the Husuni Kubwa (The great palace at Kilwa Kisiwani) that contained the name of al-Malik al-Mansūr al-Ḥasan ibn Sulaymān, further indicating his great deeds. Chittick, "Chronology and Coinage," 199.

    [9] Muhammad ibn Abdullah ibn Battuta, "A Visit to Zella, Mogadishu, Mombasa, and Kilwa Kisiwani in 1331," in EAC, 31. I would like to add that I consulted the most recent English translation edition of Ibn Battuta in addition to the selection in EAC. Unfortunately, the editor's choice of abridgment meant leaving out Ibn Battuta's trip to Kilwa, which seems a gross oversight since so few records of this place exist. The Travels of Ibn Battutah, Ed. Tim Mackintosh-Smith (London: Picador, 2002), 90. Since it is not apparent from Amazon Reviews, (and only known by looking at the publishing information) that this edition is really just an abridged version of a 1958 translation, I cannot, in good conscious, recommend it.

    [10] "Arabic History," EAC, 38.

    [11] de Barros, EAC, 90.

    [12] "Arabic History," EAC, 39. This is the interpretation as presented by Freeman-Grenville which is convincing. Chittick also has a convincing argument for some of the dynastic names having been repeated, and so the lacuna may not be skipping to al-Ḥasan ibn Sulaymān's grandson. I suspect there may be room for both interpretations, as some flexibility of interpretations may be needed for an old record of an oral history. Chittick, "Chronology and Coinage," 200.

    [13] Jeffrey Fleisher and Stephanie Wynne-Jones, "Kilwa-type Coins from Songo Mnara, Tanzania: New Finds and Chronological Implications," in NC, vol. 170 (2010), 500-1; Helen W. Brown, "Three Kilwa Gold Coins," Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa, Vol. 26, No. 1 (1991), 1-4.

    [14] G. S. P. Freeman-Grenville, "Coinage in East Africa Before Portuguese Times," in NC, vol. 17 (1957), 164.

    [15] Geoff Wade, translator, Southeast Asia in the Ming Shi-lu: an open access resource, Singapore: Asia Research Institute and the Singapore E-Press, National University of Singapore,, accessed April 19, 2017. The official Chronicle of the Ming dynasty records a representative from Mogadishu as having been brought to China's court in 1416. If specifically Mogadishu was meant, or if the name is representative of the whole Swahili coast, is unknown to this author. Ibid.,, accessed April 19, 2017. A representative returned in 1423 and seems to have received paper money in exchange for his trade goods (which one would suspect would have been either a disappointment, or a means to purchase other goods such as silk to bring back to Mogadishu). Ibid.,, accessed April 19, 2017.

    [16] Freeman-Grenville (1957), 165.

    [17] Tuan Ch'eng-shih, "Chinese knowledge in the ninth century," EAC, 8; Chao Ju-Kua, "Zanzibar and Somalia in the thirteenth century," EAC, 21-2.

    [18] G. S. P. Freeman-Grenville, "East African Coin Finds and Their Historical Significance," in The Journal of African History, vol. 1, no. 1 (1960), 35.

    [19] Marco Polo, The Travels of Marco Polo, trans. Ronald Latham (London: Penguin Books, 1958), 299-303.

    [20] "The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea," EAC, 1-2.

    [21] Helen Brown, "Early Muslim Coinage in East Africa: the Evidence from Shanga," in NC, vol. 152 (1992), 84-6.

    [22] Barbara H. Rosenwein, A Short History of the Middle Ages, 4th ed. (Toronto: University Press, 2014), 123.

    [23] Francisco d'Aleida, "The Sack of Kilwa and Mombasa," EAC, 107-8.

    [24] Philip Grierson, The Coins of Medieval Europe (London: Seaby, 1991), 191.

    [25] Grierson, Coins of Medieval Europe, 103. Some of these coins have been found at excavations in Kilwa. Album, SICA 10, xvi.

    [26] d'Aleida, "The Sack of Kilwa," EAC, 108.

    [27] Fleisher & Wynne-Jones, "Songo Mnara," passim; G. S. P. Freeman-Grenville, "Numismatic Evidence for Chronology at Kilwa," in NC, vol. 18, no. 183 (1978), 192.

    [28] Most found abroad have been in Oman, and there were a few found in Australia in 2013 which caused a stir in the media, but no proof that this was a result of trade connections between Kilwa and Australia.
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  3. kaparthy

    kaparthy Supporter! Supporter

    FitzNigel and DonnaML like this.
  4. Magnus Maximus

    Magnus Maximus Dulce et Decorum est....

    Very well researched article.
    Lovely coins as well!
    FitzNigel likes this.
  5. TheRed

    TheRed Supporter! Supporter

    That was an absolutely enjoyable read @FitzNigel thank you for posting it. I now regret not bidding on the coin from Kilwa in AMCC2. I was unaware of the minting of coins in Africa beyond Axum and now I would really like to add one of these Fals to my collection.
    +VGO.DVCKS and FitzNigel like this.
  6. FitzNigel

    FitzNigel Medievalist Supporter

    I was lucky to come upon several for a reasonable price. I picked the best three of the lot, but rarely are they very nice. I think I saw one for auction with Steven Album recently and meant to bid on it. I think I missed it though.

    keep your eyes open! They pop up occasionally! The best indicator of a Kilwa coin is a star in the middle of the legend which is unique to Kilwa. I don’t think any of my coins had the star however...
  7. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

    Thanks for the write up and coins! Super.
    +VGO.DVCKS and FitzNigel like this.
  8. Milesofwho

    Milesofwho Omnivorous collector

    Kilwa coins have been on my list from when I first joined this forum (in fact my first post was about them!), and seeing the historical context behind their issuance put in an article like this makes me even more interested in them.
    +VGO.DVCKS, kaparthy and FitzNigel like this.
  9. FitzNigel

    FitzNigel Medievalist Supporter

    I’m always happy to spread the interest! I’m curious what your first post was then - do you have a link to the thread?
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  10. Milesofwho

    Milesofwho Omnivorous collector

    It was your own.
    +VGO.DVCKS and FitzNigel like this.
  11. FitzNigel

    FitzNigel Medievalist Supporter

    Ah! 2017 was a good year for me. Sadly the coin I pictured there was the one I sold! That was a mistake on my part - I meant to sell one of the others (first coin depicted here). Oh well. I am sure it found a good home.
    +VGO.DVCKS and Pellinore like this.
  12. TheRed

    TheRed Supporter! Supporter

    You aren't kidding about 2017 being a good year. The tari of Roger II and follis of Tancrid are both great coins. The penny from Henry has a wonderfully horrible flan that perfectly illustrates the deplorable state of coinage in the kingdom of England during this reign. Topping it all off, in my humble opinion, is the trifollaro of Roger I, which represents one of the best coin types minted in Medieval Europe. The power and piety of the Normans, which would forge a kingdom stretching across the Mediterranean, is so wonderfully rendered on those coins.
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  13. FitzNigel

    FitzNigel Medievalist Supporter

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  14. +VGO.DVCKS

    +VGO.DVCKS Well-Known Member

    Huge thanks, @FitzNigel, for a profoundly illuminating article (right, coins too). Your addition of the footnotes is correspondingly welcome.
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