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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Greek Coins| ▸ |Geographic - All Periods| ▸ |North Africa| ▸ |Kyrenaica||View 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, Kyrenaika, N. Africa, c. 325 - 313 B.C.

|Kyrenaica|, |Kyrene,| |Kyrenaika,| |N.| |Africa,| |c.| |325| |-| |313| |B.C.||AE| |15|
Silphium, which is now extinct, was so critical to the Kyrenian economy that most of their coins depict it. The plant was used as a spice and to treat all kinds of maladies including cough, sore throat, fever, indigestion, pain, and warts. It was so widely used as a contraceptive that it was worth its weight in denarii. The traditional heart shape, the symbol of love, is probably derived from the shape of the silphium seed due to the use of silphium as an contraceptive.

"By the next day this maiden and all her girlish apparel had disappeared, and in the room were found images of the Dioscuri, a table, and silphium upon it." - Description of Greece, Pausanias 3.16.3, 2nd Century A.D.
GB96101. Bronze AE 15, Asolati 12/2 (same dies); cf. Müller Afrique 228 ff.; Buttrey Cyrene I 12, SNG Cop 1226; BMC Cyrenaica p. 45, 198, VF, porosity, some corrosion, tight flan, weight 3.799 g, maximum diameter 15.4 mm, die axis 180o, Kyrene (near Shahhat, Libya) mint, 325 - 313 B.C.; obverse head of Apollo Carneius right, short curly hair, THP (magistrate) upward behind; reverse triple silphium plant, seen from above, K-Y-P around divided by members, all within a round incuse; rare; $650.00 (€598.00)
 


Kyrene, Kyrenaika, N. Africa, c. 325 - 313 B.C.

|Kyrenaica|, |Kyrene,| |Kyrenaika,| |N.| |Africa,| |c.| |325| |-| |313| |B.C.||AE| |19|
Cyrene was an ancient Greek and later Roman city near present-day Shahhat, Libya. It was the oldest and most important of the five Greek cities in the region. It gave eastern Libya the classical name Cyrenaica that it has retained to modern times. Cyrene lies in a lush valley in the Jebel Akhdar uplands. The city was named after a spring, Kyre, which the Greeks consecrated to Apollo. It was also the seat of the Cyrenaics, a famous school of philosophy in the fourth century BC, founded by Aristippus, a disciple of Socrates.
GB91338. Bronze AE 19, Asolati 18 var.; Buttrey Cyrene 139 var.; SNG Cop 1219 var.; BMC Cyrenaica p. 58, 277 - 278 var.; Müller Afrique 93 var. (all no caduceus/trident), gVF, very nice for the type, caduceus and trident not visible on other examples known to FORVM, light deposit, edge crack, weight 8.525 g, maximum diameter 18.6 mm, die axis 180o, Kyrene (near Shahhat, Libya) mint, c. 325 - 313 B.C.; obverse head of Ammon with horn and beard right, small caduceus before; reverse shield (or wheel?) with handle and six ribs, small trident to right, shallow incuse; very rare; $580.00 (€533.60)
 


Kyrene, Kyrenaika, N. Africa, c. 325 - 313 B.C.

|Kyrenaica|, |Kyrene,| |Kyrenaika,| |N.| |Africa,| |c.| |325| |-| |313| |B.C.||AE| |15|
Silphium, which is now extinct, was so critical to the Kyrenian economy that most of their coins depict it. The plant was used as a spice and to treat all kinds of maladies including cough, sore throat, fever, indigestion, pain, and warts. It was so widely used as a contraceptive that it was worth its weight in denarii. The traditional heart shape, the symbol of love, is probably derived from the shape of the silphium seed due to the use of silphium as a contraceptive.

"By the next day this maiden and all her girlish apparel had disappeared, and in the room were found images of the Dioscuri, a table, and silphium upon it." - Description of Greece, Pausanias 3.16.3, 2nd Century A.D.
GB91339. Bronze AE 15, Asolati 12/2; Müller Afrique 229; Buttrey Cyrene 12, SNG Cop 1226; BMC Cyrenaica p. 45, 198, F, green patina, earthen encrustations, reverse off center, weight 3.690 g, maximum diameter 15.0 mm, Kyrene (near Shahhat, Libya) mint, 325 - 313 B.C.; obverse head of Apollo Carneius right, short curly hair, THP (magistrate) upward behind; reverse triple silphium plant, seen from above, K-Y-P around divided by members, all within a round incuse; rare; $135.00 (€124.20)
 


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

|Ptolemaic| |Egypt|, |Ptolemaic| |Kyrenaica,| |Ptolemy| |III| |Euergetes| |-| |Ptolemy| |VIII| |Euergetes| |II,| |246| |-| |116| |B.C.||obol|
The fabric and style of this type varies considerably, indicating the type was likely struck over a long period.
GP93409. Bronze obol, Lorber CPE B487; Svoronos 871; Weiser 103; SNG Cop 443; BMC Cyrenaica p. 83, 44; SNG Milan 449, F, toned brass, dark fields, bumps and marks, central depressions, weight 7.712 g, maximum diameter 21.5 mm, die axis 0o, Kyrene (near Shahhat, Libya) mint, c. 245 - 140 B.C.; obverse diademed head of Ptolemy I Soter right, wearing aegis, central impression; reverse ΠTOΛEMAIOY BAΣIΛEΩΣ (King Ptolemy), head of Libya right, wearing tainia and necklace, hair in formal curls down neck, double cornucopia below chin, central impression; from the Errett Bishop Collection; $60.00 (€55.20)
 










REFERENCES|

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