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[Identified] 'Abd Al-Rahman III AR Dirhem, Al-Andalus, AH321, Vives #378

Started by ChrisHagen, August 04, 2018, 04:02:01 PM

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Identified as an AR dirhem of 'Abd al-Rahman III of al-Andalus, AH321. Vives #378; Album #350

Hi there,

I haven't had any luck nailing this one down.
I've spent some time on zeno browsing the different dynasties, but every coin I looked at had its borders set up differently.

Obverse: Kalima in three lines, a word below, inscription around, all within triple beaded border
Reverse: Inscription in four lines [a word below?] within beaded border, inscription around, all within another beaded border. Small circle at 11 o'clock.
Weight: 1.2 grams

Any hints, clues or pointers are very welcome.


My first hunch would be Umayyads of Spain, based on style and text.
Check Abd al-Rahman III. Caliigraphy and strike is a bit odd though.


I agree with TH that it is Spanish, but I think more likely Abd al-Rahman I or al-Hakim I with the triple beaded border on the obverse and five small annulets in both obverse and reverse margins.

You can just see the first few letters of the mint al-Andalus at the bottom left of the obverse picture, and though the date is of course on the missing piece it is likely to be c.765-820 AD.



Quoteit is likely to be c.765-820 AD

I don't think so, i think it is later.
The early Umayyad emirs of al-Andalus struck their coinage very much to the model of the eastern Umayyad prototypes.
In the top line of the reverse there is almost invariably" الله احد الله "God is One".

Only later, in the period when Abd al-Rahman III declared himself the caliph, did the reverse text change.
Here i think the most logical reading is : الامام الناصر لدين الله عبد الرحمن امير المؤمنين "al-Imam / al-Nasir li-Din / Allah 'Abd al-Rahman / amir al muminin".
(Only the '"Abd" of Abd al-Rahman is written a bit strange.)
This would point to an origin between 929-960AD.


Ain't numismatics the best cure for a depression? ;) Consider yourself encouraged, gentlemen. This is like watching first class trapeze artists.

An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.


Thank you so much for the great responses!

Umayyad, ha! The one dynasty I had written off in my mind as "too early". I forgot how long they lasted in Iberia!

I'm really liking this AH 321 issue of Rahman III for a match. The engraver of that die made full line borders instead of beaded borders on the obverse, and the "'Abd" isn't engraved in that peculiar style, but everything else feels like a great match.

Here's another AH 321 of him; this time with two beaded borders around the central reverse inscription, but again everything else matches very well.

I found a zeno comment from user "palmax", that from AH322 al-Rahman IIIs mint master was named Said, and put his name in the field below the Kalima.

The name there on my coin seems to me that it reads Mhmd (Muhammad), is that right? I believe I see the same name there on the two AH321 issues I linked above.


I think you are absolutely right Chris, as was TH, and I am absolutely wrong (not for the first time  :-[, a very second class trapeze artist in this case.)



Thank's for the confirmation, great to know!

I am always astounded by the expertise shown by you guys. I can somewhat recognize Arabic when I know what the letters are supposed to say, but reading it straight off the coin is something I haven't quite learned yet. With just a bit of help from you great people once in a blue moon, I'm sure that one day I'll get there. The more I hold this coin between my fingers and look at the words, the more familiar they become. "Al Rahman" read clear as day to me now :)

Edit: I have a little theory why the calligraphy and strike is odd. If Muhammad was mint master in AH321 and Said in AH322, they probably didn't change jobs on New Years Day. There was maybe a few weeks or months in AH322 when Muhammad was still mint master. He could have been old or sick or something, which could have lowered the quality of production as he didn't show up to work. Maybe the mint master was the person tasked with engraving the script on the dies? Then someone else would have to fill in for him when he wasn't there. At least he would have been overseeing it, I assume! Of course this is just a bit of pure speculation from me, and I admit I have little to no knowledge of the workings of medieval Islamic mints!

Edit 2: With the border setup it has, no stars or dots in the fields, the annullets, the name Muhammad, etc., in my eyes this is definitely AH321, Vives #378. Found here.