Rare Silver Coin Mamluk Half Dirham Al Nasir Abul Sa'adat Muhammad 902 AH / 1497 AD Fine or Better
Description: A small silver coin from the times of Muhammad IV (Al-Nasir Abu Al-Sa'adat), who ruled Egypt and Syria during the period 901-904 AH(1496-1498 AD). Muhammad IV is from the Burji Mamluk dynasty. This is a small half dirham weighing about 1.5 grams and measuring about 15 millimeters (the coin is a bit off round). It is in generally fine condition with readable calligraphy on the obverse and the reverse, but having wear and areas of flatness. The obverse shows the legend "..lik al-Nasir; al-Sa'adat Muhammad; ..Nasruh 2" indicating the coin was struck in 902 AH or 1496/97 AD. The reverse shows an Arabique decoration on top with the words La Ellah ella Allah ; and parts of the legend ".. Rassul .." The small flan of the coin does not show the name of a mint but has the number 2 suggesting the coin was minted in 902. Please carefully review the photos presented as they are part and parcel of our description.
Date: Struck in 902 AH (1496/97 AD).
Mint: Unknown, mint name is off-flan.
Size and Weight: This is a fractional dirham, weighs ~1.5 grams of silver (said to be about 66.67% pure) and is about 15 mm in dimension (the coin is off round).
References: It is Album #1033 with a rarity index (RR), is not listed in Balog and is not listed in Wilkes.
Condition: I would grade this coin as a fine or better. The coin itself is much better than the photos show with relatively well defined and legible calligraphy on both the obverse and reverse. The coin is a bit off round with misshapen edge. The coin shows wear and has minor strike weakness along the edges and definitely shows the name Muhammad Abul Sa'adat. A very rare coin which is very difficult coin to find and would make a nice addition to your collection. Please see the photos for additional condition information.
Historic Perspective: The word Mamluks in Arabic means "owned", hence their nickname "Slave Kings". They succeeded the Ayyubids and ruled Egypt and Syria for about 250 years. They had been recruited by the Ayyubids and then, like the Turkish mercenaries of the Abbasid caliphs, had usurped power from their enfeebled masters. Unlike their predecessors, however, they were able to maintain their power, and they retained control of Egypt until the Ottoman conquest in 1517. Militarily formidable, they were also the first power to defeat the Mongols in open combat in 1260, at Ayn Jalut near Nazareth in Palestine. The Mamluk sultans are usually divided into two dynasties, the Bahris (1250 - 1382 AD), chiefly Turks and Mongols, and the Burjis (1382 - 1517 AD), chiefly Circassians. These names arise from the location of the barracks of the Mamluks within the city of Cairo (Al Kahira). Those originating from the barracks on an island in the Nile are Bahari (sea dwellers) and those who were in the towers of the Cairo Citadel are the Burjis (the tower dwellers). The Bahri sultans were usually selected from a few chief families, but during Burji times there was scant respect for hereditary principle in the selection of rulers. Neither dynasty was able to exercise more than a limited power over the turbulent Mamluk soldiers. The sultans reigned, on average, less than seven years and usually met violent ends. In spite of the dangers that threatened the sultans at home, they usually conducted a vigorous foreign policy. They defeated the last of the Crusaders and repulsed the Mongol invasion of Syria. At times they held all Palestine and Syria and the holy places of Arabia. Even after the Ottomans occupied Egypt they wheeled quite a bit of power until Mohammad Ali massacred the last of them at the Cairo Citadel in the early 1800's.