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Shehr al-Jadid - silver Tatar coins from Moldavia
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diameter 16 mm, irregular, 1.2 g, silver
Obverse inside a frame made by six arcs Arabic inscription:

Reverse Arabic inscription:

The pictures of the coins were taken from E-bay, through the kind permission of an anonymous donor.

About Yangi-Shehr or Shehr al-Jadid

The two names mean the same thing, that is New Town. Yangi-Shehr, where yangi means new and shehr means town, is the name of the place written in a Turkic language, probably Chagatai (debatably the ancestor of Uzbek language nowadays). The second name is written in Arabic; shehr means city and jadid means new. This city has been identified as being Orheiul Vechi (Old Orhei), a site situated nowadays in the commune of Trebujeni in the raion of Orhei inside the state called Republic of Moldavia, in the former Romanian county of Orhei.

About the Coins Struck at Orheiul Vechi

The coins inscribed Yangi-Shehr or Shehr al-Jadid belong to several types. Silver coins were struck, considered as dirhams [5], and bronze coins, considered as puls. Most of the silver coins bear the striking year. Anyhow, the mint at New Town did not last for long - earliest coins bear year 765 and the latest year 770. Of course, the years inscribed go by the Islamic calendar, starting with Hegira. Thus, being different to the reckoning of the Gregorian calendar, period 765 AH - 770 AH corresponds approximately to period 1363 AD - 1369 AD.

This monetary documents give excellent insight to an obscure, however crucial matter of special import in the Romanian history: the time by which the principality of Moldavia, established in 1353 and separated from Hungarian domination by 1359 [11], has attained its natural boundaries on Nistru River and the Black Sea. Such a year for completion of the Moldavian state expansion may thus be 1369 or shortly after.

A mini-catalog of the coins struck at Yangi-Shehr and Shehr al-Jadid was published in 1977 by S.A. Ianina [3]. 29 variants of the coins were registered, differing by striking year, legend, positioning and dimension of words (18 coins in silver and 11 in bronze). In 1997 Hromov [2] added to this catalog 10 more types (2 silver coins and 8 bronze coins).

About the Inscriptions on the Silver Coin struck at Orheiul Vechi

On the obverse inscription Allah * al-sultan al'adil (meaning Allah * the righteous sultan) can be read.

The "s" in sultan was not written.

Under the third row of the inscription there should be the striking year, in three digits; unfortunately, on the edge only traces of the digits are visible. Nevertheless, based on the aspect of the coin [3], almost certainly the original inscription ought to be 767. That further means that the coin was struck sometimes between around September 1365 and around August 1366.

On the reverse inscription duribe al-mahrusah Shehr al-Jadid [7] can be read, that is "struck at the New City Guarded (by God)". According to [6], shehr means city, al-Jadid means the New, and al-Mahrusa - the One Guarded by God. Two interesting ligatures can be noted, l + m + h + r and l + j + d. Saveliev [8] reads al-Mahrusat, with the final letter instead of . According to Plant [6], mahrusat can be translated as citadel - thusly coming up to a translation to the inscription as "struck in the citadel of the New City”.

According to numismatist Fedorov-Davydov [1], al-Jadid and al-Mahrusa are linguistic clichés, often applied to names of cities where Golden Horde coins were struck.

To the left of each side lies a geometrical motif. Known as the endless knot, this is an "important cultural marker in places significantly influenced by Tibetan Buddhism" [9]. Called ölzij or ulzii in Mongolian, "it symbolizes the infinite love and interdependence of all things" [10]. This symbol can be interpreted also as tamga [5], [8] (an emblem used by Altaic tribes - Huns, Mongolians, Turkic peoples etc.).

As it can be seen, the name of the khan who issued the coins is not inscribed on the coin and as such the issue can be considered anonymous [4]. The time when these coins were struck was marked by anarchy in the Golden Horde. A khan named Abdullah (764 - 770 AH) ruled over the steppes north to the Black Sea while these silver coins were struck, so that somehow they can be attributed to his rule. Moreover, in catalog "Silver Coins of the Golden Horde Khans” published in 2005 by Sagdeeva [7], such an anonymous coin is listed in the chapter dedicated to Abdullah Khan.

The coins of Shehr al-Jadid, with their arabesque markings, are truly coins shrouded in Oriental charm.


1. Fedorov-Davydov G., The Monetary System of The Golden Horde., retrieved on February 2012.

2. Khromov K., <<New Town>> (Yangi Shehr = Shehr al-Dzhedid), Numismatics & Phaleristics, nr. 4, 1997, Kiev, p. 19-21.

3. Ianina S.A., <<Novîi gorod>> (=Ianghi-Șehr = Șehr al-Djedid) - monetnîi dvor Zolotoi Ordî i ego mestopolojenie. [<<New Town>> (=Yangi-Shehr = Shehr al-Jadid) - mint of the Golden Horde and its localization.], Numizmaticeskoe sobranie, vol. 1, part 5, Moscow, 1977, p. 193-236.

4. Nicolae E., Le monnayage en Bessarabie dans la deuxième moitié du XIVe siècle. XIII Congreso Internacional de Numismàtica, Madrid 2003. Actas (Proceedings), Madrid, 2005, p. 1367-1373.

5. Nyamaa B., The Coins of the Mongol Empire and Clan Tamgha of Khans (XIII-XIV). Ulanbaatar, 2005.

6. Plant R., Arabic coins and how to read them. Seaby Publications, London, 1980.

7. Sagdeeva R.Z., Serebreanîe monetî hanov Zolotoi Ordî. [Silver Coins of the Golden Horde Khans], Izd. Goreaceaia liniia - Telekom, Moskva, 2005, p. 68.

8. Saveliev P., Monetî djucidov, djagataidov, djelairidov, e drughia obrașceavișceasea v Zolotoi Ordî v epohu Toktamîșa. Sanktpeterburg, 1858.

9. ***, Endless knot, Wikipedia, retrieved on April 2016.

10. ***, Buddhist and Mongolian symbols, Mongolia Travel & Tours, retrieved on April 2016.

11. Giurescu C., Giurescu D., Istoria românilor. vol. 1, Editura Științifică și Enciclopedică, București, 1975.

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