Name of Object:

Fils (copper coin)

Location:

Damascus, Syria

Holding Museum:

National Museum of Damascus

About National Museum of Damascus, Damascus

Date of Object:

Hegira 541–69 / AD 1146–74

Museum Inventory Number:

ع ر9786

Material(s) / Technique(s):

Minted copper.

Dimensions:

Diameter 2.5 cm, weight 3.55 g

Period / Dynasty

Atabeg/Zangid

Provenance:

Raqqa, and possibly Damascus, Syria.

Description:

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,
“Mahmud”.
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.

View Short Description

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.

Original Owner:

Nur al-Din Mahmud bin Zangi (r. AH 541–69 / AD 1146–74)

How date and origin were established:

The coin is attributed to the reign of Nur al-Din Mahmud bin al-Zangi (r. 541–69 / 1146–74).

How Object was obtained:

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.

How provenance was established:

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.

Selected bibliography:

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.

Citation of this web page:

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

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