University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The History Collection

Page View

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

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

Page 472

tists estimates a possible production for a single die of ten to twenty thousand
coins, suggesting at least one to two million Aleppo imitations and about
1,400,000 to 2,800,000 Damascus-type dirhams. These are conservative estimates,
because it is likely that many dies remain to be discovered, and the number
of dies does not include those for the half dirhams of each series. Also,
the dies of the dirhams with Christian inscriptions have not been studied
and counted. Assuming an average weight of about 2.8 grams, and an average
fineness of 95 percent for the Aleppo coins, the silver content of the Aleppo
imitations would amount to about 2.5 to 5 metric tons, while for the Damascus
coins, with the same average weight but an average fineness of only 85 percent,
the total issue would be about 3.4 to 6.8 metric tons of silver. 
 These figures should not be taken with great seriousness, considering the
many assumptions that went into their calculation, but it seems safe to say
that at least five to ten metric tons of silver went into the making of the
crusader Arabic dirhams. This silver did not come from Syria, which has no
mines. Some of it might have come from Anatolia, imported by the crusaders
through Cilician Armenia, and some might also have come from Byzantine territory,
but it seems reasonable to deduce that the bulk of this silver came from
western Europe. There is direct evidence for movement of silver from Europe
to Syria in the form of coins found in the latter region, and indirect evidence
in the existence of special taxes collected in many European countries for
the support of the crusaders and in documents referring to the export of
silver. 12$ ~ does not necessarily follow that all the silver that supplied
the thirteenth-century Islamic revival of silver coinage came from Europe,
but it does seem clear that the crusader imitations of Aiyubid silver coinage
must have contributed substantially to the stock of silver in Moslem Syria.
 There are in addition a few other crusader Arabic coins that can only be
mentioned here. These exist in only one or two specimens, and have not been
studied beyond their first publication by Balog and Yvon.129 Two examples
are known of an issue of billon, BY 49, which has on one side an equal-armed
barred cross with small wedge-shaped figures, described as crosses, in the
four quadrants, and on the other side an Arabic inscription that has been
read c/uriba bi-Quds, "struck in Jerusalem". The reading is not entirely
certain, but the language of the inscription together with the cross is perhaps
sufficient evidence 
 128. Much of this evidence is collected by Andrew M. Watson, "Back to Gold—and
Silver," Economic History Review, 2nd ser., XX (1967), 7—21. 
 129. Balog and Yvon, "Monnaies," pp. 167-168. 

Go up to Top of Page