‘May the elder Abu’l-Khayr Khiyyar pay
 to the bearer five dinars for wax candles’

These thousand-year-old payment orders are similar to modern day cheques. Travelling with large amounts of silver and gold currency was dangerous, so merchants often relied on orders of payment for their transactions, creating an early paper economy. Each follows a regular formula, including phrases, dates and numerals in Arabic, Judaeo-Arabic, Hebrew, Aramaic and Coptic. All of these were issued by the same man, a merchant in the India trade called Abu Zikri Kohen.

Various languages, paper, Egypt, 1140 CE

T-S Ar.30.184

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