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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, Kyrenaica, c. 500 - 480 B.C.

|Kyrenaica|, |Kyrene,| |Kyrenaica,| |c.| |500| |-| |480| |B.C.||drachm|
The Valentine Coin! 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 not actually derived from the shape of the heart; it is the shape of the silphium fruit or seed, due to its use as a contraceptive.
GA111637. Silver drachm, BMC Cyrenaica 35, pl. V, 1; SNG Cop 1171 var. (pellets in corners of incuse); Buttrey Cyrene -, aVF, uneven toning, off center obv., porous, weight 2.712 g, maximum diameter 13.0 mm, die axis 270o, Kyrene (near Shahhat, Libya) mint, c. 500 - 480 B.C.; obverse silphium fruit, [pedicel above?], pellet below; reverse silphium fruit, pedicel above, pellet below, all within incuse square; very rare; $600.00 SALE PRICE $540.00


Kyrene, Kyrenaica, c. 510 - 490 B.C.

|Kyrenaica|, |Kyrene,| |Kyrenaica,| |c.| |510| |-| |490| |B.C.||hemiobol|
The Valentine Coin! 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 not actually derived from the shape of the heart; it is the shape of the silphium fruit or seed, due to its use as a contraceptive.
GA111636. Silver hemiobol, cf. Buttrey Cyrene 53, SNG Cop -, BMC Cyrenaica -, VF, weight 0.337 g, maximum diameter 6.2 mm, Kyrene (near Shahhat, Libya) mint, c. 510 - 490 B.C.; obverse silphium fruit (or seed pod), in outline border, pedicel above; reverse shallow rectangular incuse; very rare; $500.00 SALE PRICE $450.00


North Africa & Sicily, Lot of 9 Bronze Coins, c. 400 - 100 B.C.

|Multiple| |Coin| |Lots|, |North| |Africa| |&| |Sicily,| |Lot| |of| |9| |Bronze| |Coins,| |c.| |400| |-| |100| |B.C.||Lot|
 
LT110972. Bronze Lot, 9 bronze coins of North Africa & Sicily, aF - VF, c. 14.2 - 22.6mm, unattributed (but probably Ptolemaic Kyrene, Sardina, Siculo-Punic, and several Syracuse), no tags or flips, the lot is the actual coins in the photograph; as is, no returns, 9 coins; $190.00 SALE PRICE $171.00


Kyrene, North Africa, Ptolemy Apion, c. 101 - 96 B.C.

|Kyrenaica|, |Kyrene,| |North| |Africa,| |Ptolemy| |Apion,| |c.| |101| |-| |96| |B.C.||quarter-obol|
Ptolemy Apion was a son of Ptolemy VIII, perhaps by an Egyptian concubine. This makes him a half-brother of Ptolemy IX and X. Ptolemy Apion died in 96 B.C., without an heir, leaving his kingdom to the Roman Republic.

According to Butrey, Apion's coinage was nothing but very small change, with a peak about 1.3 grams. Buttrey notes, "the Greek coinage of Cyrenaica, of glorious tradition, ended in the lamentable small bronzes of Apion."
GB110044. Bronze quarter-obol, Buttrey Cyrene 542 - 603, VF, tight flan, dark patina, earthen deposits, weight 1.127 g, maximum diameter 11.6 mm, die axis 0o, Kyrene (near Shahhat, Libya) mint, c. 101 - 96 B.C.; obverse diademed head of Ptolemy I as Zeus right, wearing aegis; reverse ΠTOΛEMAIOY BAΣIΛEΩΣ, head of Libya or Isis right; ex Naville auction 65 (30 May 2021), lot 111 (part of); ex Richard Plant collection; rare; $80.00 SALE PRICE $72.00


Kyrene, Kyrenaica, North Africa, c. 120 - 96 B.C.

|Kyrenaica|, |Kyrene,| |Kyrenaica,| |North| |Africa,| |c.| |120| |-| |96| |B.C.||obol|
From the time of the late reign of Ptolemy VIII to that of Ptolemy Apion. Ptolemy Apion was a son of Ptolemy VIII, perhaps by an Egyptian concubine. This makes him a half-brother of Ptolemy IX and X. He died without an heir and left his kingdom to Rome.
GP111957. Bronze obol, cf. Svoronos Pl. XLVI, 23 - 25 (Ptolemy V), SNG Cop 438 (Ptolemy IV - VIII, c. 221 - 140 B.C.), VF, earthen encrustations, off center, sprue remnant, obv. edge beveled, central dimples, weight 4.390 g, maximum diameter 18.6 mm, die axis 0o, Kyrene (near Shahhat, Libya) mint, c. 120 - 96 B.C.; obverse diademed head of Ptolemy Soter right with aegis; reverse ΠTOΛEMAIOY BAΣIΛEΩΣ, head of Isis right, hair in formal curls down neck, cornucopia below chin; $65.00 SALE PRICE $58.50


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

|Ptolemaic| |Egypt|, |Ptolemaic| |Kingdom| |of| |Egypt,| |Cleopatra| |III| |and| |Ptolemy| |IX| |Soter| |II| |(Lathyros),| |116| |-| |c.| |110| |B.C.||AE| |15|
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.
GP111973. Bronze AE 15, cf. Svoronos 1845; Buttrey Cyrene 378; SNG Cop 685, Noeske 392, Weiser -, VF, cleaned and porous, weight 3.351 g, maximum diameter 14.5 mm, die axis 0o, Kyrene (near Shahhat, Libya) mint, 116 - c. 110 B.C.; obverse horned head of Zeus-Ammon right, wearing diadem; reverse ΠΤΟΛΕ ΒΑΣΙΛΕ ΣΩ (or similar), headdress of Isis; $60.00 SALE PRICE $54.00







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REFERENCES|

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Asolati, M. Nummi Aenei Cyrenaici: Struttura e cronologia della monetazione bronzea cirenaica di et greca e romana (325 a.C.-180 d.C.). (Rome, 2011).
Babelon, E. Trait des Monnaies Grecques et Romaines. Vols I. (Paris, 1901).
Burnett, A., M. Amandry, et al. Roman Provincial Coinage. (1992 - ).
Buttrey, T. "Coins and Coinage at Euesperides" in Libyan Studies XXV. (1994).
Buttrey, T. "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).
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Malter, J. The Coinage of Ancient Egypt, Auction II, February 23 and 24, 1978. (Encino, CA, 1978).
Mller, L. et. al. Numismatique de l'ancienne Afrique. (Copenhagen, 1860-1862).
Noeske, H. Die Mnzen der Ptolemer. (Frankfurt, 2000).
Pitchfork, C. The Jon Hosking Collection of Ptolemaic Coins. Nicholson Museum, University of Sydney. (Sydney, 2000).
Polk, R. A Catalog of the Greek Coins in the British Museum, the Ptolemies, Kings of Egypt. (London, 1882).
Roman Provincial Coinage Online - http://rpc.ashmus.ox.ac.uk/
Robinson, E. 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).
Strauss, P. Collection Maurice Laffaille - monnaies grecques en bronze. (Ble, 1990).
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 Ptolemischer Bronzemnzen der Sammlung des Instituts fr Altertumskunde, Universitt Kln. (Opladen, 1995).

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