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Of Moneys, Weights and Measures

The subject of denominations of currency in the Levant is a study in itself. The following extract from The Travels Of Monsieur De Thevenot Into The Levant, written by Jean de Thévenot and published in 1686, might today be published as The Dummy’s Guide to Levantine Currency to greatly simplify the subject!

The Piastres are commonly worth there thirteen Schais, and when they are full weight they are worth thirteen Schais and a Bisti; the Bisti consists of four Casbeghis, of which ten make a Schai. The most current money are the Abassis, Mahmoudis, Schais and Casbeghis, The Abassis is of the value of four Schais, which make about eighteen Sols of our money, and the Mahmoudi contains two Schais, which are nine Sols; the Schai is worth about four Sols and a half, and the Casbeghi five Deniers and a half or somewhere less. The Toman is worth fifteen Piastres, or fifty Abassis: The Boquelle is worth three Abassis or twelve Schais. They have great pieces of silver of the value of five Schais, and weigh two Medicais. The Mahmoudi is also cal­led Yuz-Alton, (which is as much as to say) an hundred Altons; and nevertheless that word Alton which signifies Gold, is commonly taken for a Chequin; but in a Mahmoudi,  it is taken for the value of a Denier, and in the same manner five Abassis are also called Min-Alton or Bing-Alton, which signifies a thousand Alton, but I could not learn of any a satisfactory reason for that last signification.