When we first posted the dirham offer on our e-shop and Facebook page, many a fan of the Viking TV production was tapping his forehead - Arab coins and Vikings? Are you crazy?
So let's take a brief look at the coins with those strange letters.
You will know that in the early Middle Ages there was a brisk trade between Europe and the Far East. Vikings who were hired as mercenaries earned a tidy sum in the Byzantine lands thanks to their militancy and political disinterest. Arab dirhams, Byzantine solidi and various bars of silver and gold then became not only a well-known currency, but also a souvenir of a long journey.
The Vikings brought with them from their far-flung journeys not only jewellery and fabrics unheard of in the North, of which everyone wanted a piece. They kept their silver coins in their purses, and the coins were also twisted into bracelets or made into souvenirs with a loop. Thus, coins from the Orient flowed through Kievan Rus to the Baltic countries and today museums are full of them.
However, not everyone appreciated the beauty of the jewellery and the art of the craftsmen, and these Varyags also did not make a living out of money-poaching.
Have you ever seen depots (treasures of unprecedented value stored in the ground, wells, earthen vessels and chests) in a museum? They are full of variously deformed bracelets, jewellery, weapons and coins. Precious metals, though beautifully crafted, were the currency of the early Middle Ages. But not everything was worth a whole piece of silver or a whole bracelet of gold. So the Viking didn't hesitate to cut or break off a piece and the deal was done.
In our offer you can find silver plate replicas of two types of dirhams.
One dirham is a very successful replica of a coin minted by Haroun ar-Rashid (766-809 AD) - the Caliph of Baghdad, the religious and political leader of the ruling Muslim Abbas family. His staggering wealth and number of wives made him a legend in Tales of a Thousand and One Nights.
The second, slightly larger, was minted for Yazid II between 720 and 724 AD.
The text on the dirham reads :
الله أحد الله الصمد لم يلد و لم يولد يكن له كفوا أحد محمد رسول الله أرسله بالهدى ودين الحق ليظهره على الدين كله ولو كره المشركون - God is one, God is the eternal refuge. He did not beget nor was He begotten, and no one is equal to Him.
لا إله إلا الله وحده لاشريك له بسم الله ضرب هذا الدرهم بواسط سنة تسعشرة و مئة - There is no other god except God alone, He has no equal. In the name of God this dirham was minted in the year one hundred and nineteen.
And what do we know about this Yazid II? He was said to have been so in love with his slave, Sallah, that his heart broke with grief after her death.
If you are a reconstructionist of the early medieval period, such a dirham should be part of your costume. If you write to us in time, we can produce two halves of one coin for you and your spouse. Pierced or even with an eyelet in brass, bronze, silver plated plumes etc.