From the history of Armenian coins: First known coin with Armenian inscription

From the history of Armenian coins: First known coin with Armenian inscription

The Bagratid dynasty coins haven't been preserved, which leads to belief that Bagratid rulers did not mint their own currency.

A royal dynasty of Bagratids formed in Armenia in late 9th century (885-1045 AD) as the central authority of the Arab Caliphate was waning. The rulers declared Ani as a new capital city. The period was marked by flowering of culture, expansion of trade, crafts, art and architecture in Armenia.

PanARMENIAN.Net - The Bagratid dynasty coins haven't been preserved, which leads to belief that Bagratid rulers did not mint their own currency.

However, among the coins preserved there's a copper coin of King Kyurike Bagratid II, Lori branch (1048-1089 AD.)

Description of coins

The few King Kurike II coins that have been preserved are truly a rarity. In their style and design, the cons remind those of Byzantian rulers of the same period. These are the earliest known coins with the inscriptions made in Armenian.

The obverse of the coin features an image of Jesus Christ, the reverse carries a multiline Armenian inscription.

Obverse and reverse of King Kyurike II copper coin

During the rule of the dynasty of the Bagratids, coins of the Arab Caliphate and Byzantine Empire, as well as coins of local Muslim dynasties continue circulating in Armenia. Silver dirhem of the Arab Caliphate was the main monetary unit not only on the territory of Armenia but the whole region. The coin was accepted on vast territories beyond the Caliphate’s frontiers. Caliphate’s copper fels were also in wide circulation.

However, in late 10th century, the dirhems were taken out of circulation on the Caliphate-ruled territory to be replaced with low grade silver ones, and later on, with silver-plated copper coins. In that period, Byzantian gold coin – nomisima – assumes the role of the basic monetary unit.

Description of coins

Nomisima had a relatively large diameter and was minted on a thin gold plate. It was often calyciform with high quality gold used in its minting.

Reverse of gold coin of Byzantine emperor Constantine X

Byzantian silver hexagrams and copper folles were also put in circulation. While silver Byzantian coins were rather rare, gold and copper ones were widely circulated on the territory of the Caliphate.

With the weakening of Caliphate’s central authority, certain local Muslim dynasties increase their presence in Transcaucasia, with the dynasties’ rulers minting their own coins to stress their independence.

The rulers of Shaddadid dynasty minted low quality silver coins in 10-11th centuries, with dynasties of Eldiguzid, Zengid, Artuqid minting copper coins in the same period and later. In the late 12th early 13th centuries coins of Georgian rulers – Queen Tamara, Queen Rusudan – enter circulation in northern regions of Armenia.

In mid-13th century, Mongol Tatars invade the whole territory of Arab Caliphate including Transcaucasia, with the Hulaguid dynasty rule established. Coins on Mongol rulers came to circulate in Armenia in late 13th century, with silver dirhem minted in Transcaucasia as the main currency. Hulaguid dynasty coins minted in Ani, Erzurum, Akhaltsikhe, Tiflis are among the better known ones.

Description of coins

Mongolian Hulaguid dynasty coins are similar to those of Arab Caliphate in design: featuring no images they mainly carry inscriptions in Arabic or Uygur languages – religious sayings, rulers' titles, coinage date and location. Some Hulaguid coins carry Christian symbols, specifically, a picture of a cross.

Obverse and reverse of silver dirhems of Hulaguid rulers

Initially, the so-called anonymous dirhems bearing no names of Mongolian rulers were coined. In late 13th early 14th centuries, coins carrying the names of Mongolian Khans – Abaqa, Abu Sa'id, Mahmud Ghazan, Oljeitu – were minted.

The material was prepared in cooperation with Gevorg Mughalyan, the numismatist of the Central Bank of Armenia.

Viktoria Araratyan / PanARMENIAN.Net, Varo Rafayelyan / PanARMENIAN Photo
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