Who says the "global economy" is something new?

Sometime around the turn of the century, one of his [Abbasid Caliph Harun al-Rashid] merchants paid a gold dinar [Arab coin] into the hands of a Scandinavian trader, who took it north and used it to buy goods from an Anglo-Saxon merchant, who sailed home with the coin and landed at a port in the English kingdom of Mercia. Mercia, which by this point had expanded to cover a good bit of the southeast of England, was under the rule of King Offa, a Christian monarch…

Once in Mercia, the merchant used the coin to buy a night’s lodging from an innkeeper, who later that year used it to pay the king’s tax-collector. And so it came into the hands of Off’s silversmith, who was mulling over the designs for the next year’s English coinage. He liked the pretty patterns on al-Rashid’s gold dinar and decided to copy them. The following year, the coins of the English monarch were minted with “OFFA REX” written on one side and, the Arabic words for “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet” on the other. The silversmith, of course, had no idea what the words said; “OFFA REX” is written right side up, but the Arabic letters are all upside down.

Susan Wise Bauer, The History of the Medieval World, p. 397

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s