Name of Object:

Medallions (bracteates)


Setif, Algeria

Holding Museum:

National Museum of Setif


Hegira 524–668 / AD 1130–1269 or Hegira 627–982 / AD 1229–1574

Type of object:


Museum Inventory Number:

bjx.01, bjx.02

Material(s) / Technique(s):

Incised silver.


Diameter 2 cm (each), weight 1 g (each)

Period / Dynasty:

Almohad or Hafsid


Qal’at Bani Hammad, Algeria.


Each of these two sheets of metal, circular in shape, features a circle on its upper surface that is ornamented with three lines in relief, and each sheet is only decorated on one side. Medallion 01 is embellished with large, coarsely executed curved lines that belong to a discontinued interweaving pattern. Medallion 02 depicts the same type of discontinued interweaving pattern based on large curved lines, but it has been more finely worked and is better centred. Three perforated triangles also adorn medallion 02.
The rings demonstrate that these bracteates were used as pendants.

View Short Description

How date and origin were established:

Bourouiba dates these medallions back to the Hammadid era without offering justification. This hypothesis is challenged by an inscription featured on a medallion found alongside these medallions that was written in naskhi characters (cursive), a script particular to the Almohads and the Hafsids, and not the Hammadids, who used kufic lettering. Furthermore, these medallions were brought to light along with thousands of Almohad coins and one Hafsid coin. It would thus make sense to date it from the 7th / 13th century.

How Object was obtained:

Archaeological repository (Bourouiba excavations, September 1967).

How provenance was established:

Bourouiba states, in the Bulletin d'archéologie algérienne (Vol. III, 1968), that the medallions were discovered 'in the western part of the prayer hall of the mosque of the Qal'a of the Bani Hammad, near the last pillar of the penultimate nave, to the right of the mihrab'.

Selected bibliography:

Bourouiba, R., Cités disparues: Tahert, Sédrata, Achir, Kalaâ des Beni Hammad, Algiers, 1982.
Bourouiba, R., Les H'ammadites, Algiers, 1984.
Bourouiba, R., “Note sur des bijoux trouvés à la Qal'a des Banu Hammad”, Bulletin d'archéologie algérienne, Vol. III, Algiers, 1968, pp.353–67.

Citation of this web page:

Houria Cherid "Medallions (bracteates)" in Discover Islamic Art , Museum With No Frontiers, 2019.;ISL;dz;Mus01;45;en&id=amulets_and_talismans

Prepared by: Houria CheridHouria Cherid

Titulaire d'un magister en archéologie islamique (1992), enseignante à l'Institut d'archéologie de l'université d'Alger de 1992 à 1999, conservateur du patrimoine archéologique et historique au Musée national des antiquités de 1994 à 2002, puis conservateur en chef à partir de 2002, Houria Cherid est chef du service Labo-photo, département Animation et Documentation au Musée national des antiquités. Elle a publié de nombreux articles dans les Annales du Musée national des antiquités et prépare actuellement un doctorat en archéologie islamique.

Copyedited by: Margot Cortez
Translation by: Maria Vlotides
Translation copyedited by: Monica Allen

MWNF Working Number: AL 81