ABBASID, AL-MU‘TAMID (256-279h). Dinar, Adharbayjan 258h. Obverse: In field: la ilaha illa | Allah wahdahu | la sharik lahu | Ja‘far. Reverse: In field: lillah | Muhammad | rasul | Allah | al-Mu‘tamid ‘ala-’llah. Weight: 4.18g. Reference: cf Bernardi type 173 (unrecorded for this mint). Edge smoothed and made round, otherwise very fine and of the highest rarity, apparently an unpublished date for this extremely rare Abbasid gold mint. Adharbayjan is one of the rarest mints for Abbasid gold dinars. The coin offered here appears to be only the third published Abbasid dinar from the mint, and the only specimen known of this date. When an extremely rare mint such as Adharbayjan is operational for a single year, it is often possible to find a historical reason why it should have opened – perhaps a military campaign. In the case of the present coin, we have hints that it may relate to an episode involving ‘Isa b. al-Shaykh al-Shaybani, governor of Armenia from 258h until his death in 269h. ‘Isa was related to the Mazyadids and first appears in the early 230s, fighting in the Abbasid army which suppressed the revolt of Muhammad b. al-Ba’ith in eastern Adharbayjan. Some twenty years later he held a post in Syria, and in 252h was confirmed as governor of Jordan and Palestine. During the ‘Anarchy at Samarra’ during the mid 250’s, ‘Isa seems to have made Jordan and Palestine his own personal fiefdom. He kept the provinces tax and trade revenue for himself, rather than remitting it to the caliph, and used this to buy the loyalty of the local tribes. The caliph al-Muhtadi (255-256h) wrote to ‘Isa, offering to pardon him in exchange for the money ‘Isa had failed to hand over in previous years – a sum which was estimated at 750,000 dinars. ‘Isa refused, and al-Muhtadi died before further action could be taken against him, but in 257h al-Mu‘tamid repeated the demand for ‘Isa to pay these tax arrears. This time, the demand was backed up with military action. ‘Isa’s son was killed in battle, and ‘Isa himself withdrew to Ramla. Al-Mu‘tamid sent another embassy to ‘Isa, offering him the governorship of Armenia (which also included Adharbayjan and part of the Jazira) if he would relinquish his claims to Jordan and Syria. ‘Isa agreed, and departed for his new governorship in 258h – the year in which this coin was struck. Shortly afterwards, ‘Isa successfully led an alliance of local Arab dynasties against the Christian Armenian ruler Ashot I at around this time. Either his appointment or this victory might account for Abbasid dinars being struck in Adharbayjan around this time, especially if ‘Isa were keen to demonstrate his loyalty to al-Mu‘tamid by sending gold coins to the caliph as tax revenue.
Estimate: GBP 20000 - 30000