Name of Object:

Medallion (bracteate)


Constantine, Algeria

Holding Museum:

National Museum of Cirta


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

Type of object:


Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

Engraved and cut silver.


Diameter 2.8 cm, weight 2.11 g

Period / Dynasty:

Almohad or Hafsid


Qal’at Bani Hammad, Algeria.


This circular sheet of metal mounted as a medallion has a rounded opening in its lower part. Opposite, a succession of three rings, lightly spread apart, has been soldered onto the upper surface. The surface on one side of this medallion remains bare, while the other features ornamentation and an inscription. A double circular fillet encircles the circumference by contouring the opening, and circumscribes the ornamentation, most of which is spread across three bands. The two upper and lower bands enclose interlacing curved lines and straight lines respectively. The central band, which is wider, encloses an inscription in cursive characters featuring the following text: 'Al mulk lillah wahdahu' (Sovereignty belongs to God alone).
The rings that are fixed on the upper part of the medallion suggest that this bracteate was used as a central pendant for a necklace.

View Short Description

How date and origin were established:

Bourouiba dates this medallion to the Hammadid era without offering justification. The inscription on this medallion was written in naskhi characters (cursive), a script particular to the Almohads and the Hafsids, and not the Hammadids, who used kufic lettering. Furthermore, it was brought to light along with thousands of Almohad coins and one Hafsid coin. It would thus make sense to date it to 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 this medallion was 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 "Medallion (bracteate)" in Discover Islamic Art , Museum With No Frontiers, 2019.;ISL;dz;Mus01;46;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 87