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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 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; Mller 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; $95.00 SALE PRICE $85.50


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

|Kyrenaica|, |Kyrene,| |North| |Africa,| |Ptolemy| |Apion,| |c.| |101| |-| |96| |B.C.||quarter-obol|NEW
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; $90.00 SALE PRICE $81.00







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REFERENCES|

Alexandropoulos, J. Les monnaies de l'Afrique antique: 400 av. J.-C. - 40 ap. J.-C. (Toulouse, 2000).
Amandry, M., A. Burnett & J. Mairat. Roman Provincial Coinage III, From Nerva to Hadrian (AD 96138). (London & Paris, 2015).
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).
Bompois, H. Mdailles grecques autonomes frappe dans la Cyrnaque. (Paris, 1869).
Lorber, C. Coins of the Ptolemaic Empire. (New York, 2018).
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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