New RNS Special Publication – SP 53

Tony Goodwin and Rika Gyselen, Arab Byzantine Coins from the Irbid Hoard. Including a New Introduction to the Series and a Study of the Pseudo-Damascus Mint. Royal Numismatic Society Special Publication no. 53. London, 2015. Pp. ix, 297 including 51 plates. ISBN 09014054487 £60.00

The book summarises the latest research on Arab-Byzantine coins and then examines two enigmatic series: ‘Pseudo-Damascus’ and ʿalwafā lillāh. The name ‘Pseudo-Damascus’ derives from the fact that many of the coins have a mint mark which indicates they were minted at Damascus though the evidence is clear that they were struck elsewhere. They are unique in the Arab-Byzantine series for their extraordinary variety of designs. As well as analysing the typology Goodwin publishes a complete die corpus. The name ʿalwafā lillāh derives from the enigmatic phrase written in the exergue of the reverse and, sometimes, also on the obverse of the coins. Although similar in overall style to pseudo-Damascus the design of the ʿalwafā lillāh is by contrast very standardised. The typology is exhaustively analysed by Gyselen. These two types predominated in the Irbid hoard. Found in Jordan in the 1960s, this is the only substantial hoard of Arab Byzantine coins. The book catalogues and illustrates 658 coins from the Ibid hoard, 501 of which are now in the Cabinet des Medailles in Paris. The historical context of the issues and their suggested attributions are also discussed. They both come from mints located in present day Israel or North Jordan and circulated together at the time of the war between the Umayyads and the Zubayrids. On the basis of our present knowledge they are most likely issues of separate tribal authorities.

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