UMAYYAD, TEMP. AL-WALID I (86-96h). Dirham, Janza 95h. Obverse: In border: five plain annulets; In margin: pellets below d of duriba and n of Janza, triplet of pellets below unit of date. Weight: 2.79g. Reference: cf Klat 250 [dated 94h]. Cleaned, good very fine and of the highest rarity, apparently unpublished. This is believed to be an unpublished date for Umayyad dirhams from Janza, a very rare Umayyad mint-name and the old Arabic name for the city of Ganja in present-day Azerbaijan. Mediaeval Arab writers recounted a legendary story of the foundation of Janza in which the Arab governor, Muhammad b. Mazyad, dreamed that a voice told that there was a great treasure hidden near where he was camped. The voice told him to unearth the treasure and use it to found a city there. Muhammad b. Mazyad did so and, having notified the caliph al-Mutawakkil, was duly appointed governor of the new city in 244h. While a version of this story is found in mediaeval Armenian sources as well as Arab ones, and may record Ganja being reoccupied or rebuilt at this time, the city’s origins do in fact to date back to pre-Islamic times. Moreover, the fact that the city’s name appears to derive from the Persian word ganj, ‘treasure,’ gives an attractive explanation for how a foundation myth involving buried treasure might have arisen. Umayyad dirhams from mints in Armenia and the North have been studied in detail by Michael Bates (‘The Dirham Mint of the Northern Provinces of the Umayyad Caliphate,’ Armenian Numismatic Journal, XV (1989), pp.89-110). Bates argues convincingly that although at least ten different toponyms from this region appear on the coinage, including Janza, only one mint was normally active at any one time. He concludes that the mint ‘…moved from place to place as the governor moved his headquarters, taking the name at any time of the city of province where he was.’ However, the period between 92-95h appears to be particularly complicated, with at least two or three mint-names attested for each of these years. According to Bates, ‘In these years Maslama b. ‘Abd al-Malik is reported to have invaded the Byzantine territories every summer…and the rare issues of mints scattered across the North may well reflect a time when authority was delegated to various provincial governors within the region.’ The present coin shows that the same trio of mints was active in 94h and also in 95h, with Janza, al-Jazira and Arminiya now all known for both dates. This goes some way to confirming the scant evidence from our written sources, supporting the assertion that Maslama did indeed make repeated incursions into Byzantine territory in consecutive years.
Estimate: GBP 10000 - 15000