A 9th-century Coin

Obverse, in field: “there is no god except God alone, who has no associate. Muhammad the son of the Commander of the Faithful.” Reverse, in field: ‘Ali, Muhammad is the messenger of God, al-Mahdi ‘Ali b. Muhammad.”

A 10th-century Description

This passage is from Mas’udi, a famous Arab geographer and historian writing in the 10th century.

Most people [of Basra] hid in homes and wells appearing only at night, when they would search for dogs to slay and eat, as well as for mice… They even ate their own dead, and he who was able to kill his companion, did so and ate him.

‘Ali’s soldiers were so outrageous as to auction off publicly women from the lineage of Hasan and Husayn and al-‘Abbas [the descendants of ‘Ali b. Abi Talib and the ‘Abbasids] as well as others from the lineage of Hashim, Quraysh, and the rest of the Arabs. These women were sold as slaves for a mere one or three dirhams, and were publicly advertised according to their proper lineage, each Zanji receiving ten, twenty and thirty of them as concubines and to serve the Zanji women as do maids.

Source, p. 456.