Fils (copper coin)
National Museum of Damascus
Hegira 541–69 / AD 1146–74
Diameter 2.5 cm, weight 3.55 g
Raqqa, and possibly Damascus, Syria.
Muslims generally minted coins in three kinds of metal. The first type is a gold coin called the dinar, the second is a silver coin called the dirham, and the third is a copper coin called the fils (Arabic plural: fulus).
This piece is a fils made in the Byzantine style and resembles specifically the fils of Emperor Constantine X (r. AH 451–9 / AD 1059–67). It is attributed to the reign of the Zangid ruler Nur al-Din Mahmud. The coin has figurative images and Arabic inscriptions in kufic script as described below:
Obverse – There is a standing person with a halo around his head. On the lower left is the phrase “The King of Princes” and on the right is the name of the king,
Reverse – The following text is written inside a rectangular frame: the titles "al-'Adil” (The Just) and “Nur al-Din” (The Light of Religion).
Considering that this type of coin was minted in a manner that resembles Byzantine coins, numismatic experts expect that it was circulated equally in two areas – amongst Muslims and in the Byzantine areas adjoining Muslim territories.
This copper coin, known as a fils, was minted by Nur al-Din Mahmud bin al-Zangi. It shows an intermingling of Arabic and Byzantine features from the Atabeg era.
Nur al-Din Mahmud bin Zangi (r. AH 541–69 / AD 1146–74)
The coin is attributed to the reign of Nur al-Din Mahmud bin al-Zangi (r. 541–69 / 1146–74).
This coin is from a collection of copper coins found accidentally by a resident of Raqqa. It was turned over to the Directorate of Antiquities in 1955.
The coin was found in the city of Raqqa and is part of a collection of copper coins weighing 50 kg. The place of mint is not recorded on the coin but it is known that Nur al-Din minted copper fils in Damascus.
Delpont, E. (ed), L'Orient de Saladin: l'art des Ayyoubides, Paris, 2001, p.34.
Sayles, W., and Spengler, W., Turkoman Figural Bronze Coins and their Iconography, Vol. II, Wisconsin, 1996, p.57.
Mona al-Moadin "Fils (copper coin)" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2017. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;sy;Mus01;41;en
Prepared by: Mona Al-Moadin
Translation by: Hilary Kalmbach (from the Arabic)
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: SY 67
On display in
Discover Islamic Art Exhibition(s)The Atabegs and Ayyubids | Travelling and Trading
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