Verses 102:1-3 were rarely used on coins after the ʿAbbasid revolution in 132/750, but the other inscriptions remained standard on nearly all Islamic coins until the Mongol conquest in the 13th century (see below), as did the general format: several horizontal lines framed by circular inscriptions.All Omayyad reformed gold and silver coins were issued anonymously, with neither caliphs’ nor governors’ names included.The first coins of pure gold and pure silver are believed to have been produced at the same mint. 8), but Darius did introduce certain reforms (Bivar, pp. For example, a papyrus document from Egypt dating from the 5th century B. The siglos was also struck in thirds, fourths, sixths, and twelfths (Hill, p. Initially, it was probably in use primarily in Lydia itself (although gold darics were found in a 6th century deposit at Persepolis). The Arsacids did not mint gold coins, except perhaps as ceremonial medallions. It is said to have involved five craftsmen: one who “poured” the coin, one who “struck” it, one who “cut” it, one who “sealed” it, and one who “cleaned” it (Hommel, pp. These successive processes are quite similar to those known to have been involved in minting coins under the Safavids (907-1145/1501-1732; see below). 400); in addition, one Sasanian seal in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, bears an image of a mint master wearing an unusual hat and holding a balance, with an anvil, a hammer, and a die at hand (Göbl, 1971 , p. As in the Achaemenid period, most of the coins minted by the Sasanians were used for the payment and provisioning of troops, as is clear from the vastly increased production during periods of war. Ḵosrow II (590-628) even boasted of the annual inventory of his treasury and the fact that the number of s had doubled more than once during his reign (Göbl, 1971, p. Between the reigns of Šāpūr II (307-79) and Bahrām V (420-38) tributary rulers were not allowed to mint coins (Burns, pp. By the time of Ḵosrow II the practice of “hubbing,” in which duplicate dies, usually cast or punched from a single master die, were sent from the court to each operating mint, had been adopted; he was reported to have had new dies made in the thirteenth and thirtieth years of his reign (Ṭabarī, I, pp. From about 29/650 to 50/670 all these issues continued to bear the name of a Sasanian emperor, usually Ḵosrow II, the last emperor to have struck coins in quantity, and abbreviated mint names in Pahlavi.
The Achaemenid rulers, for example, customarily had precious metals melted down and poured into jars; the molds were subsequently broken and the bullion stored. At first the satraps and city governors also minted coins in both gold and silver, some bearing Greek letters next to the Achaemenid archer on the obverse (Hill, pp. At any given time the number of mints in actual operation was smaller.
As a result, although tax levies were expressed in monetary units, actual payments were usually in kind (Dandamayev and Lukonin, p. Equally, at Darius’ palace at Persepolis the workmen were paid in kind: “Sheep and beer are the equivalent, one sheep for three shekels, one jug for one shekel” (Olmstead, p. Officials were also often paid with claims on the produce of land, rather than in currency (Dandamayev and Lukonin, pp. From a tablet found at Persepolis it is clear that already during the reign of Xerxes I (486-65 B. E.) one-third of the wages were accounted for “in cash” and toward the end of his reign two-thirds (Ghirshman, pp. After 55/675 most of the Persian coinage was struck in the territories subject to Baṣra, that is, eastern and southern Persia; indeed, more than half the total coinage was probably issued in Fārs, with Kermān and Sīstān accounting for much of the rest.
Coinage in ancient Persia thus weighed about a pound. by another series, which is beyond doubt Persian royal coinage, known to the Greeks as “Daric staters” (gold) and “Daric sigloi” (silver), both with the characteristic image of the archer on the obverse. 92), but production of the silver coins seems to have ceased in the early 4th century. The siglos weighed 11.2 g, and the silver content was more than 90 percent. The darics in particular served as the gold standard throughout the western part of the Persian empire and Asia Minor (Olmstead, p. 83), but another mint for gold was established some time in the 5th century, probably in Babylonia, and there may have been several mints for gold in the 4th century (Carradice, p. It has been suggested that a large proportion of Achaemenid currency was struck exclusively to pay for the military establishment, gold for the army, silver for the navy. E.) the Greek legends become so conventional as to be unintelligible (Sellwood, 1980, p. 331-32), and even at major mints coins were not necessarily struck every year (Göbl, 1971, p. Šāpūr II (307-79) transported minting equipment on his eastern campaigns; the court mint (heterogram BBA = “court”) is also thought to have remained ambulatory for some time (Göbl, 1971, p. Sasanian coins are often countermarked, probably by later Sogdian and Muslim rulers, certifying that they remained valid currency in regions under those rulers’ control (Göbl, 1971, p.
In western Asia the earliest coinage is believed to have been issued at Sardis in Lydia in the 6th century B. E.; the first examples were of electrum, a naturally occurring alloy of gold and silver. The purpose was apparently to provide a uniform standard of value throughout the empire and also, according to Herodotus (4.166), to demonstrate Darius’ own power, “to leave a memorial of himself, such as no king had ever left before . The Babylonian weight standard, which was already in use on the Persian plateau, was adopted in general outline (Mitchiner, 1973, p. confirms that merchants paid “according to the stone (weight) of the king”: 1 (Olmstead, p. Twenty sigloi were equivalent to 1 daric; the ratio of value between silver and gold was thus theoretically 13.3:1. This curious division may have reflected the fact that silver was the common currency in the Mediterranean, whereas the army operated mainly in western Asia, where gold was preferred (Burns, p. The Achaemenid royal coinage was neither the unique nor the universal medium of exchange in the empire, however. 56; idem, (see coptic manichean texts) there is an extended metaphor in which the minting process is compared to the minting of the Word. 334), in keeping with the rulers’ policy of centralized control, which resulted in a quite uniform coinage. From the Islamic conquest to the Mongol invasions As the Arabs of the Ḥejāz had used the s of the Sasanian emperors, the only silver coinage in the world at that time, it was natural for them to leave many of the Sasanian mints in operation, striking coins like those of the emperors in every detail except for the addition of brief Arabic inscriptions like in Arabic.
In mercantile centers they were used as money, each issue with its own value, but often they were treated simply as another species of bullion and are found in hoards mixed with silver ingots of different forms. All were, however, based on the Persian reformed weight standard, which had also been adopted in the kingdoms of Choresmia, Bactria, and Sogdiana (Mitchiner, 1973, p. In contrast, on the Persian-Afghan plateau trade seems to have been conducted largely by means of bullion transactions, with the silver ingot as the weight standard and the gold shekel as the unit of account (Mitchiner, 1975, I, pp. Despite the wide acceptance of Achaemenid trade coins, the development of monetized relations was severely hampered by limits on the available supply of specie (Dandamayev and Lukonin, pp. There were no important gold or silver mines in Persia, and even copper usually had to be imported. After his conquest of the Achaemenids Alexander established the Attic weight standard throughout his own empire, which also included Choresmia, Bactria, and Sogdia (Mitchiner, 1973, p. His standard coinage consisted of the gold stater, weighing 8.6 g, and the silver tetradrachm (four drachmas) with the head of Hercules draped in a lion skin on the obverse and a seated Zeus on the reverse, weighing 16.8 g. With the accession of Seleucus I Nicator (312-280 B. E.), however, the satraps in his territory, which included Babylonia and the former eastern provinces, lost the right to mint coins. The market ratio between silver and copper was similar (Göbl, 1971, p. The main Arsacid mints were at Ecbatana and Seleucia on the Tigris, though others functioned sporadically. Between 42/662 and 52/672 the names of the Sasanian emperors were replaced by names of local, provincial, or regional governors or occasionally the caliph himself, always written in Pahlavi script.
Although little is known about the organization and staffing of mints in the Achaemenid period, it seems clear that the emperors reserved to themselves the right to coin gold in their empire and that satraps and tributary rulers were allowed to coin silver in their own names for local circulation (Dandamayev and Lukonin, pp. Furthermore, the practice of hoarding in the treasury drained gold and silver from the market and increased demand. The Achaemenid daric and siglos and Athenian “owl” coins also continued to circulate freely, as did satrapal issues. In 305 he began to issue a fairly uniform coinage, with a diademed head of the bearded Zeus on the obverse and a quadriga of elephants on the reverse, which circulated throughout his territory (Mitchiner, 1975, I, pp. A few small, independent rulers in northeastern Persia, Fārs, and Susa also continued to mint their own coins (Hill, pp. The legends on the coins were usually in Greek, and for a considerable time the Arsacids continued the Seleucid dating system (Sellwood, 1980, pp. Mint names are not included on the coins, though many carry monograms and counterstamps, which may have been related to internal mint administration or specific officials. In this period the coinage of Persia seems to have been largely left to local authorities; irregular issues with false dates and mint names abound, and the work of identification and sequencing is still in progress. About twenty mints have been identified securely, nearly all having operated previously under the Sasanians but also including Baṣra and Kūfa (under the pre-Islamic name Āqūlāʾ), the new administrative capitals of the Islamic east.
4.5 g) and then the new Islamic dinar (4.25 g), issued in Damascus, North Africa, and Spain but not in Persia. The new dirhams were first issued at twenty-five or thirty mints, including most of those where Arab-Sasanian silver coins had previously been struck, as well as many new ones.
With establishment of a new eastern capital, Wāseṭ, in 83-84/702-03, all minting for Persia was concentrated there.
In 72/692 minting began at the caliphal capital, Damascus.
The coins evolved rapidly from imitations of Byzantine (gold and copper) and Sasanian (silver) issues, to coins with experimental Muslim images, to purely epigraphic dinars, dirhams, and , the Byzantine copper coin) with Muslim religious inscriptions in Arabic, introduced by the caliph ʿAbd-al-Malek (75-86/685-705) in 77/697 (Bates, 1986).
The effects of this evolution were felt in Persia, where several experimental types with images appeared at different mints; ʿAbd-al-Malek’s governor in Iraq, Ḥajjāj, was the first to have his name inscribed on the coins in Arabic instead of Persian.