UAE: Over 2,800 rare Islamic coins unveiled in Abu Dhabi

The treasure reveal regional and local history, signifying political changes, power struggles and the changing value placed on precious metals

Photo: Supplied
Photo: Supplied

Ismail Sebugwaawo

Published: Tue 9 Nov 2021, 12:17 PM

Last updated: Tue 9 Nov 2021, 12:29 PM

Louvre Abu Dhabi has unveiled a rare treasure of Islamic silver coins – the Hoard of Jazira – the subject of a major two-year project at the museum.

The museum will install a rare hoard, dating from the reign of King Shapur II (A.D. 309-379) until that of Abbasid Caliph Al Ma’mun (A.D. 813-833) and containing a large amount of medieval Islamic coins.

This hoard of 2,861 silver coins manufactured in the Eurasian continent is supplemented by 67 additional single coins in gold or gold alloy produced in the regions of the Mediterranean basin and Eurasia during a period of about 1,000 years (from the 6th to the 16th century).

The coins reveal regional and local history, signifying political changes, power struggles, and the changing value placed on precious metals throughout this period.

Leading on the curation of the Hoard of Jazira, Guilhem André, Chief Curator at Louvre Abu Dhabi, said, “This display will showcase a global monetary history. It highlights the trade, cultural exchanges and political dynamics revealing an interconnected world economy between distant regions. It testifies to the birth of Islamic coinage and its evolution.

“The Sasanian drachmas, Umayyad dirhams, Abbasid silver coins, alongside the gold Byzantine solidus, the Genoese and Venetian gold coins, and more will prove how a simple coin can illustrate power relationships and rivalries among competing, growing empires well, as the emergence of major trade hubs.”

Theofanis Karafotias, Head of Preventive Conservation at Louvre Abu Dhabi, elaborated on the conservation process that had taken place before the public display, “The coins were not only conserved by the museum but also documented and digitised as well so that they could be studied in greater detail. We had to decide how to conserve each coin among the thousands – whether chemicals, an ultrasonic bath, or simple distilled water— considering which treatment would be the best, least intrusive way to reveal each coin’s face.”


This new presentation will be dedicated to the financial centres that came into existence during the medieval period and their monetary systems.

The diffusion of specific gold and silver coins and the trade of precious metals created the pre-conditions for the economy of the modern world, a practice which later had a considerable impact on the global economy.

The new display will shed light on the transcontinental trade of gold and silver. The stylistic development of these coins works as an indicator of their evolving values in accordance with time and shifting geographies.

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