12. Medin, 1585 CE

This is a legal deed (ḥujja) in Arabic script, drawn up in a qadi court in Cairo and dated 1585 CE. A landlord, al-Faqīr ilā Allāh, settles accounts with his tenant, a Jew named Mūsā who owes 150 medins—nearly a year’s worth—of unpaid rent for an upper-story apartment (riwāq). They agree that Mūsā will pay thirty medins immediately and subsequently twenty medins every month, fourteen as rent and six as repayment of the debt.

The half-silver piece was an extremely long-lived coin that served as the main silver denomination in Egypt in the late Mamlūk period and across the Ottoman era. It was first minted by the Mamlūk sultan al-Muaʾayyad Shaykh in 1415 CE and henceforth became known as the muʾayyadī, a name which evolved into medin in the Ottoman period until its production ceased in 1834 under Mehmed ʿAlī Pasha [1]. In this document, the provenance of the silver is specified: Mūsā owes his landlord “one hundred and fifty Murādī halves of silver,” referring to the regnal standard of the medin minted by the Ottoman Sultan Murad III (r. 1574–95). Alternate labels for the medin include: muʾayyadī, niṣf fiḍḍa, qiṭʿa (Arabic); medin, para (Ottoman Turkish); ḥeṣi, muayyadi kesef – sometimes abbreviated מ״כ (Hebrew); mayedes, maidis (Judaeo-Spanish).

[1] Şevket Pamuk, A Monetary History of the Ottoman Empire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 95-96.

"Acknowledgment of Debt," T-S NS 297.5r, 1585 CE, Arabic.

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1 [In the Name of] God [the Gracious and Merciful] | هو

2 al-Faqīr ilā Allāh, the undersigned, settled accounts with Mūsā Qubā[?], the Rabbanite Jew, | تحاسب الفقير الى الله تعالى الواضع خطه اخيرا مع موسى قبا اليهودي الربان

3 for the lease of his residence in the upper-story apartment on Qaḍīb Street. The outstanding (amount) owed to al-Faqīr by the aforementioned Mūsā | عن اجرة سكنه بالرواق بدرب قضيب واخر ما يستحقه الفقير قبل موسى المذكور

4 through the end of Jumāda I 993 [AH] is an amount totaling to one hundred and fifty Murādī halves of silver... | ...لاخر شهر جمادى الاول سنة ٩٩٣ مبلغ قدره من الفضة المرادية ماية وخمسين نصفا

Note on Line 1: In both Arabic and Ottoman Turkish documents "هو" (lit. He) can represent a basmala invocation: New Redhouse Turkish-English Dictionary, Eighth Edition (Istanbul: Redhouse Press, 1986), 499.

(ed. Alan Elbaum, trans. Matthew Dudley and Alan Elbaum)

Medin from the Princeton Numismatic Collection (Coin: 16487)

Denomination: Half Dirham

Metal: Silver

Date: 1412 to 1417

Size: 12 mm

Die Axis: 6

Weight:1.12 in grams

Shape: round

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