Bulletin 8 - July 1979: Two Coins from the Desert

Two Coins from the Desert

by John Nisbet

(In January 1979 the ENHG Archaeology Recorder found two coins amid campsite debris at the foot of dunes 70 kms east of Abu Dhabi, just off the Al Ain Road. They were stuck together and completely unidentifiable. The coins were passed on to Mr. John Nisbet, a coin expert and ENHG member. The following are his comments. Editor)

I have managed to clean the two coins passed to me and sufficient detail has shown up to positively identify their place of minting. The Arabic legend on the reverse reads "paloos Shustar" thus, reading upwards:

This just means "copper coin of Shustar," which is a small town to the northeast of Ahwaz in Khuzistan. The obverse shows a stylized leaf emblem much used on these autonomous coppers. There is no legend. There is no date on the coins, but I have several specimens of this variety which were found at al-Hira near Sharjah at shoreside encampments in association with dated silver of Persia (see J. Nisbet, "A Nineteenth Century Mint from the Trucial Oman?", Bulletin No.6, p. 32). We can therefore ascribe a date of 1850-1880 for their minting. In my opinion, their provenance in the desert outside Abu Dhabi shows that this pearling fleet also relied on migrant labor from the Northern Gulf during the pearling season and these copper coins of Shustar provided much of the small change along the Trucial Coast for the pearlers during the season.


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