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Zacour, N. P.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / Volume VI: The impact of the Crusades on Europe
(1989)

XI: Crusader coinage with Arabic inscriptions,   pp. 421-473 PDF (5.7 MB)


Page 432

432 A HISTORY OF THE CRUSADES 
 In the reign of al-Häkim difficulties which are not yet clearly understood
occurred, ending up in the recoinage of A.H. 400(1009/10), when, for the
first time, the gold coinage was changed in appearance during a caliph's
reign.29 It is possible, in fact, that this and the subsequent changes in
the design of the gold coinage mentioned above are related much more to changes
in the silver coinage than in the dinar. At any rate, the evolution of Fätimid
silver coinage in the eleventh century will not be understood until the metrology
and silver content of each of the successive types is studied separately.
The general picture, however, is one of decline in the fineness of the silver,
accompanied naturally by lower exchange rates against the dinar, which remained
relatively constant in fineness.30 At the end of the century, references
to dirhams in Egypt are seldom encountered in the written sources, while
surviving examples of such dirhams from the late years of alMustansir and
the reign of al-Musta'li are few. 
 The new dinar type introduced in 490 (1096/7) was accompanied by a new dirham.3'
The designs of the two denominations are similar, but there was also a change
in the fabrication of dirhams. Previously they were thin and circular, probably
cut or punched out of silver sheets before striking, but after 490, and until
the beginning of the thirteenth century, dirhams were struck on squarish
chunks of silver cut by a chisel from a long ribbon-shaped ingot. Usually
two opposite edges of the coins can be seen to be cut, but sometimes "tongue-shaped"
dirhams are found with three rounded edges and one cut, evidently the end
of an ingot.32 This dirham type endured into the Aiyubid era with only the
necessary changes in inscription (p1. XIII, no. 16). 
 Several contemporary descriptions of the AiyUbid Egyptian mint specify that
these dirhams were to be 30 percent silver and 70 percent 
 29. Al-Maqrizi, Ighathat al-ummah bi-kashf al-ghummah, ed. Muhammad Mu~tafâ
Ziy~dah and Muhammad ash-Shaiyal (Cairo, 1940), pp. 15—16, 64—65.
The problems arose in 397, according to the first passage, or 399, according
to the second, but al-Maqrizi does not say that the change in the coinage
occurred in the same year, only that the situation continued until the reform.
The change in the appearance of the coinage does not come until 400. 
 30. Balog, "History," p. 122; Goitein, op. cit., I, 368—392. 
 31. Both old- and new-type dirhams are known from the reign of al-Musta'li
(a new-type black dirham is published by Balog, "Etudes numismatiques de
l'Egypte musulmane: Périodes fatimite et ayoubite, nouvelles observations
sur la technique du monnayage," Bulletin de l'Institut d'Egypte, XXXIII (1951),
7—8; the ANS has another (1953.48.3; p1. XIII, no. 14), as well as
a dirham of the older type (1971.132.15; unpublished, p1. XIII, no. 13).
Ibn-Muyassar, op. cit., II, 65, mentions a reform of the dinar in 490, and
it seems reasonable to suppose that the new dirhams were introduced at the
same time. The change is, probably wrongly, attributed to al-Amir's reign
by as-SuyU~J, Husn al-muhadarah, II, 156 (ed. 1299, II, 205). 
 32. Balog, "Etudes numismatiques de l'Egypte musulmane, III: Fatimites,
Ayoubites, premiers Mamelouks, leurs techniques monétaires," Bulletin
de l'Institut d'Egypte, XXXV (1953), 
401—429. 


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