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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Greek Coins ▸ Geographic - All Periods ▸ North Africa ▸ KyrenaicaView Options:  |  |  |   

Kyrenaica

Kyrenaica, the eastern coastal region of Libya, was colonized by Greeks beginning in the 7th century B.C. Western Kyrenaicia was known as Pentapolis for its five cities: Cyrene (near modern Shahat) with its port of Apollonia (Marsa Susa), Arsinoe or Taucheira (Tocra), Euesperides or Berenice (near modern Benghazi), Balagrae (Bayda) and Barce (Marj). Cyrenaica produced barley, wheat, olive oil, wine, figs, apples, wool, sheep, cattle, and silphium, an herb that grew only in Kyrenaica and was regarded as a medicinal cure and aphrodisiac. Kyrene was one of the greatest intellectual and artistic centers of the Greek world, famous for its medical school, academies, and fine Hellenistic architecture. In 525 B.C. Persia took the Pentapolis. Alexander the Great received tribute from these cities after he took Egypt. The Pentapolis was annexed by Ptolemy I Soter. It briefly gained independence under Magas of Cyrene, stepson of Ptolemy I, but was reabsorbed into the Ptolemaic empire after his death. It was separated from the main kingdom by Ptolemy VIII and given to his son Ptolemy Apion, who, dying without heirs in 96 B.C., bequeathed it to the Roman Republic.


Kyrene, Kyrenaica, North Africa, Ptolemaic Rule, c. 300 - 275 B.C.

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Magas was the stepson of Ptolemy I, the son of Berenice I, and half-brother to Ptolemy II. In 276 B.C., he crowned himself King in Kyrene, married the daughter of Antiochos I and invaded Egypt with his Seleukid allies. The Seleukid army was defeated by Ptolemy II and Magas faced an internal revolt of Libyan nomads. Still, Kyrene remained independent as long as he lived.
GS75115. Silver hemiobol, BMC Cyrenaica pl. XXV, 8 (plates only, missing from text); Müller Afrique -; SNG Cop -; SNG Milan -, gVF, toned, scratches, weight 0.419 g, maximum diameter 9.3 mm, Kyrene mint, Magas, as Ptolemaic governor, c. 300 - 275 BC.; obverse diademed male head right; reverse star of eight narrow rays around central pellet; ex Roma Numismatics E-sale 17 (April 2015), lot 375; extremely rare; $250.00 SALE PRICE $225.00
 


Ptolemaic Kingdom, Magas in Kyrene, c. 277 - 249 B.C.

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Magas was the stepson of Ptolemy I, the son of Berenice I, and half-brother to Ptolemy II. In 276 B.C., he crowned himself King in Kyrene, married the daughter of Antiochos I and invaded Egypt with his Seleukid allies. The Seleukid army was defeated by Ptolemy II and Magas faced an internal revolt of Libyan nomads. Still, Kyrene remained independent as long as he lived.
GB65215. Bronze obol, Svoronos 324; Noeske 112; SNG Cop 431; SNG Milan 443; Malter 54; BMC Ptolemies p. 76, 14; Weiser -, VF, weight 7.158 g, maximum diameter 22.7 mm, die axis 0o, Kyrene mint, c. 277 - 261 B.C.; obverse diademed bust of Ptolemy right; reverse ΠTOΛEM BAΣIΛ MAΓ, horizontal winged thunderbolt, monogram above; rare; $180.00 SALE PRICE $162.00
 


Kyrene, Kyrenaica, North Africa, c. 322 - 308 B.C.

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Silphium grew only in Kyrenaica and most coins of the region, including this one, depict it. The stalk was eaten as a vegetable. Parts of the plant were used to treat all kinds of maladies including cough, sore throat, fever, indigestion, pain, and warts. The fruit was considered both an aphrodisiac and a contraceptive, and was worth its weight in denarii. Unfortunately, we will never know if its medicinal properties were real or imagined because the plant became extinct in the first century A.D. It's said that Nero ate the last plant.
SH70797. Bronze AE 23, cf. BMC Cyrenaica 175, SNG Cop 1216, Müller Afrique 224, SNG Milan -, F, weight 12.396 g, maximum diameter 22.6 mm, die axis 180o, Kyrene mint, c. 322 - 308 B.C.; obverse head of Karneios right, with horn of Ammon and short curly hair, magistrate's name (AN∆P?) below; reverse silphium plant, K-Y (obscure, possibly retrograde) flanking across field; very rare; $170.00 SALE PRICE $153.00
 


Nummi Aenei Cyrenaici

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The history and structure of the Greek and Roman Cyrenaica bronze coinage.
BK16130. Nummi Aenei Cyrenaici: Struttura E Cronologia Della Monetazione Bronzea Cirenaica di eta Greca E Romana (325 AC - 180 DC) by Michele Asolati, Cirene Atene d'Africa IV, Monografie Di Archeologia Libica (Book 32), in Italian, 154 pages, illustrations in the back, paperback, new; $157.00 SALE PRICE $141.00
 


Ptolemaic Kingdom, Kyrene, c. 322 - 313 B.C.

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Silphium grew only in Kyrenaica and most coins of the region, including this one, depict it. The stalk was eaten as a vegetable. Parts of the plant were used to treat all kinds of maladies including cough, sore throat, fever, indigestion, pain, and warts. The fruit was considered both an aphrodisiac and a contraceptive, and was worth its weight in denarii. Unfortunately, we will never know if its medicinal properties were real or imagined because the plant became extinct in the first century A.D. It's said that Nero ate the last plant.
GB84582. Bronze AE 14, Asolati 9, Müller Afrique 84, BMC Cyrenaica 199, SGCV II 6342, F, weight 3.923 g, maximum diameter 14.3 mm, die axis 270o, Kyrene mint, governor Ophellas, c. 322 - 313 B.C.; obverse head of Karneios right, [AN∆P]; reverse silphium plant, K-Y flanking across field; rare; $125.00 SALE PRICE $113.00
 


Ptolemaic Kingdom, Cleopatra III and Ptolemy IX Soter II (Lathyros), c. 116 - 110 B.C.

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The date and reign of issue for this type are uncertain. Svoronos attributed it to Ptolemy IV but noted it may "belong to a later reign." Recent attributions span from Ptolemy VIII to Ptolemy X. Kreuzer suggests it is very similar to Svoronos 1426, from the Alexandria mint, with a cornucopia in place of the silphium plant.
GB65938. Bronze AE 22, Svoronos 1158 (Ptolemy IV); SNG Cop 455 (2nd century B.C.); SNG Milan 447 (2nd century B.C.); Weiser -, Noeske -, Hosking -, VF, weight 7.856 g, maximum diameter 22.2 mm, die axis 45o, Kyrene mint, c. 116 - 110 B.C.; obverse head of Zeus Ammon right with ram's horn, wearing taenia and uraeus; reverse ΠTOΛEMAIOY BAΣIΛEΩΣ, two eagles with closed wings standing left on two thunderbolts, silphium plant in left field; rare; $95.00 SALE PRICE $85.50
 


Ptolemaic Kyrenaica, Magas in Kyrene, c. 277 - 249 B.C.

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Magas was the stepson of Ptolemy I, the son of Berenice I, and half-brother to Ptolemy II. In 276 B.C., he crowned himself King in Kyrene, married the daughter of Antiochos I and invaded Egypt with his Seleukid allies. The Seleukid army was defeated by Ptolemy II and Magas faced an internal revolt of Libyan nomads. Still, Kyrene remained independent as long as he lived.
GB76670. Bronze AE 16, Svoronos 333; BMC Cyrenaica p. 78, 26 - 27; SNG Milan 446; SNG Cop 436; Weiser -; Noeske -, F, some corrosion and encrustation, weight 4.433 g, maximum diameter 15.7 mm, die axis 0o, Kyrene mint, 277 - 261 B.C.; obverse diademed bust of Ptolemy II, wearing aegis; reverse ΠTOΛEM BAΣIΛE (or similar), Pegasos forepart left, MAG (Magas) monogram below; rare; $95.00 SALE PRICE $85.50
 


Kyrene, Ptolemaic Kingdom, 221 - 140 B.C.

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The date of this type is uncertain and varies greatly in the references. We believe it was most likely struck during the reign of Ptolemy V Epiphanes, c. 204 - 180 B.C.
GP57270. Bronze hemiobol, Svoronos 867 (271 - 246 B.C.), Noeske 235, Weiser 104 (204 B.C.), SNG Cop 445, SNG Milan 471 (221 - 96 B.C), Hosking 67, BMC Cyrenaica p. 85, 62, gVF, weight 2.916 g, maximum diameter 16.5 mm, die axis 0o, Kyrene mint, obverse diademed head of Ptolemy I right; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ ΠTOΛEMAIOY, draped bust of Libya right, cornucopia below chin; $90.00 SALE PRICE $81.00
 


Ptolemaic Kingdom of Kyrenaica, Ptolemy IX Soter II (Lathyros), 116 - 110 B.C.

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After Ptolemy VIII died in 116 B.C., Cleopatra III ruled with her mother Cleopatra II and son Ptolemy IX. In 110 B.C., she replaced Ptolemy IX as co-regent with her second son Ptolemy X. Ptolemy IX regained the throne in 109 but was again replaced in 107 B.C. In 101 B.C., Ptolemy X had his mother Cleopatra III murdered and then ruled alone or with his niece and wife, Berenice III.
GP59568. Bronze hemiobol, Svoronos 1718; Buttrey Cyrene 361 ff., SNG Cop 678; Weiser 169 (Alexandria); BMC Ptolemies p. 107, 42 ff.; SNG Milan 527 (Cyprus); Noeske -, VF, weight 4.057 g, maximum diameter 19.0 mm, die axis 0o, Kyrene mint, 116 - 110 B.C.; obverse horned head of Zeus-Ammon right; reverse ΠTOΛEMAIOY BAΣIΛEΩΣ, filleted double cornucopia with two stars above, Σ − Ω / Θ − E in field; $80.00 SALE PRICE $72.00
 


Ptolemaic Kyrenaica, Ptolemy III Euergetes - Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II (Physcon), 246 - 116 B.C.

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Alexander the Great received tribute from the cities of Kyrenaica after he took Egypt. Kyrenaica was annexed by Ptolemy I Soter. It briefly gained independence under Magas of Cyrene, stepson of Ptolemy I, but was reabsorbed into the Ptolemaic empire after his death. It was separated from the main kingdom by Ptolemy VIII and given to his son Ptolemy Apion, who, dying without heirs in 96 B.C., bequeathed it to the Roman Republic.
GP65950. Bronze AE 12, Svoronos 874 (Ptolemy II, 1 specimen), cf. SNG Cop 445 (Ptolemy III), Weiser 105 (Ptolemy V), Noeske 130 (Ptolemy III), SNG Milan 484 (uncertain date), VF, weight 0.881 g, maximum diameter 12.0 mm, die axis 0o, Kyrene mint, 246 - 116 B.C.; obverse diademed head of Ptolemy I right, wearing aegis; reverse head of Libya right, wearing tainia, cornucopia below chin; $80.00 SALE PRICE $72.00
 




  



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REFERENCES

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Babelon, E. Traité des Monnaies Grecques et Romaines. Vols I. (Paris, 1901).
Burnett, A., M. Amandry, et al. Roman Provincial Coinage. (1992 - ).
Buttrey, T.V. "Coins and Coinage at Euesperides" in Libyan Studies XXV. (1994).
Buttrey, T.V. “Part I: The Coins from the Sanctuary of Demeter and Persephone” in Buttrey-McPhee. (Philadelphia, 1997).
Babelon, J. Catalogue de la collection de Luynes: monnaies greques. (Paris, 1924-1936).
Strauss, P. Collection Maurice Laffaille - monnaies grecques en bronze. (Bàle, 1990).
Müller, L. et. al. Numismatique de l’ancienne Afrique. (Copenhagen, 1860-1862).
Noeske, H.-C. Die Münzen der Ptolemäer. (Frankfurt, 2000).
Pitchfork, Colin. The Jon Hosking Collection of Ptolemaic Coins. Nicholson Museum, University of Sydney. (Sydney, 2000).
Polk, R.S. A Catalog of the Greek Coins in the British Museum, the Ptolemies, Kings of Egypt. (London, 1882).
Robinson, E.S.G. A Catalog of the Greek Coins in the British Museum, The Greek Coins of Cyrenaica. (London, 1927).
Sear, D. Greek Coins and Their Values, Vol. 2, Asia and Africa. (London, 1979).
Sear, D. Greek Imperial Coins and Their Values. (London, 1982).
Svoronos, J. Ta Nomismata tou Kratous ton Ptolemaion. (Athens, 1904-1908).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Denmark, The Royal Collection of Coins and Medals, Danish National Museum, Vol. 8: Egypt, North Africa, Spain - Gaul. (1994).
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Italy, Milano, Civiche Raccolte Numismatiche, XIV. Cyrenaica-Mauretania. (Milan, 1989).
Weiser, W. Katalog Ptolemäischer Bronzemünzen der Sammlung des Instituts für Altertumskunde, Universität Köln. (Opladen, 1995).

Catalog current as of Sunday, April 23, 2017.
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Kyrenaica