Isma’il, Safavid Shah of Iran AH 907-930/AD 1501-1524

A 2569, Choice Very Fine

Ardabil mint. Name and titles of Isma’il, mint name and ‘adl (“just”) in cartouche; Reverse, Shi’ite Kalima, names of the 12 Imams around, forming square-in-diamond design. Ardbil is a city in northwest Iran and was the spiritual capital of the Safavid dynasty.


The Safavid Shah Isma’il (AH 930-984/ AD 1524-1576) is the founder of Safavid Empire of Persia. He began to unify Persia and re-assert the Iranian/ Persian identity of the region. In this effort, he made Shia Islam the official religion of Persia. He was the grandson of Uzun Hasan thus inherited loyalties of many who were in Hasan’s service. Isma’il was able to defeat the Uzbeks in northeast Persia but his main adversary was the Ottoman Turks in the West. In 1514, Isma’il engaged the Ottomans and was badly defeated. This loss which was primarily due to the Ottomans using guns and gun powder, which completely changed the character of warfare. Ardabil, where this coin was minted, was the spiritual capital of the Safavids and the home of the dynastic founder Safi. The establishment of the Safavid kingdom is considered by historians to mark the beginning of modern Iran.