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Ancient Jewish Coins: Coins from Arabs in the Holy Land

(650 - 1094 CE)

The Roman Emperor Heraclius lost Jerusalem to the Arabian Khalif Omar in 637 CE, after a few month’s siege. One of the first coins struck in Palestine by the Arabs (c. 650 CE) is an imitation of a Byzantine coin, picturing Heraclius in the center, flanked by his sons Heraclius Constantine and Heraclonas, each holding a small globe with a cross; on the reverse is a large “M” (the denomination), along with the name of the city in Latin and Arabic.

Tiberias Copper Fals c. 650 CE (Coins of Tiberias, p. 105-6)

The Umayyad Governors also struck several varieties of small bronze coins (fals denomination) in imitation of earlier Jewish coins. These feature an amphora (like the First Revolt bronze prutah), 5-branched candelabrum (like the Menorah coin of Antigonus Mattathias), and pomegranate (like the pomegranate buds on the famous First Revolt shekels). The Arabic inscriptions read “There is No God but Allah Alone” and “Muhammad is the Apostle of Allah.”

Anonymous Copper Fals (Islamic Coins #66)

Anonymous Copper Fals (Islamic Coins #68)

Anonymous Copper Fals (Islamic Coins #70)

The Caliph himself was portrayed on coins struck in Jerusalem c. 670-685 CE. He stands facing, wearing a long robe and native head-dress; his right hand is placed on a sword. The name of the mint in Arabic “Iliya Filistin” is indicated on the reverse.

Anonymous Copper Fals c. 670-685 CE (Islamic Coins #51)

Around the turn of the first millennium, the Arabs began striking gold dinars in Palestine. Such a coin was issued in Ramla jointly by Ali b. Al-Ikshid with the Caliph Al-Muti Iillah (960-965 CE). The legends read in part: “There is No God but Allah Alone, He Has No Associate” and “Allah, Muhammad Is the Apostle of Allah, God Bless Him.”

Ali b. Al-Ikshid and Caliph Al-Muti Iillah, Gold Dinar, Ramla, 960-965 CE (Islamic Coins #113)

Sources: The Handbook of Biblical Numismatics