ISLAMIC, ZENGIDS OF SINJAR
Qutb al-Din Muhammad b. Zengi (AD 1197-1219)
AE Dirhem. 10.17g, 26mm
MINTED: Sinjar mint, AH 598 (AD 1201/2)
REF: Spengler & Sayles Type 81; Album 1880.2
OBVERSE: Bareheaded, draped, and cuirassed Roman-style bust left, holding spear or scepter over shoulder and shield; mint name and date around.
REVERSE: Names and titles of Abbasid Caliph al-Nasir and Qutb al-Din Muhammad in five lines and continuing into margins; tamgha below.
Toned copper and green surfaces with earthen deposits in fields. Small scuff at 12 o' clock on reverse.
A 13th century portrait of Caracalla?
This interesting type, featuring a military bust carrying a shield and spear, has been variously explained as copying earlier Byzantine or Bactrian coins. Spengler and Sayles, however, suggest that the inspiration for the type might have in fact been a Roman Provincial, possibly of Emperor Caracalla, struck at the city of Edessa. Such coins circulated in the Roman province of Mesopotamia, including the territory controlled by the Zengids almost a thousand years later, and as such, recovered local finds of these coins would almost certainly have been familiar to mint workers in the employ of the Zengid emirs.
The Zengids were a dynasty of Turkoman Muslim emirs who controlled much of Syria and northern Iraq between the 12th and 13th centuries. Under their founder Imad al-Din Zengi (AD 1127-1146), they gained prominence by conquering the County of Edessa, the first of the Crusader states to be established in the region. After Zengi's death in 1146, his territories were split between two of his sons, one of whom for a time counted amongst his vassals the famous Saladin, then the Governor of Egypt. Later Zengid emirs, ruling independently from their power bases at Mosul, Aleppo, Sinjar and al-Jazira, would gradually lose control of their territories, until the last of the Zengid cities was taken in 1250 by the Ayubbid emir An-Nasir Yusuf, a great grandson of Saladin.
Qutb al-Din Muhammad b. Zengi ruled from Sinjar, in frequent conflict with his cousin, Arslan Shah of Mosul. While he was the first ruler of Sinjar to recognize Ayyubid overlords on his coins, types such as this one only name the Abbasid Caliph al-Nasir, leaving out the Ayyubid Sultan, probably an indication of waning Ayyubid influence over Sinjar at the time.
ZENGIDS OF SINJAR . Qutb al-Din Muhammad . AE Dirhem . *Caracalla's portrait?*
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