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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; $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)
 


Cyrene, North Africa, c. 500 - 480 B.C.

|Kyrenaica|, |Cyrene,| |North| |Africa,| |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 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.
SH15373. Silver drachm, Traité I, pl. 63, 15; BMC Cyrenaica 36; ex Leu 22, 1979, 181, gVF, weight 2.562 g, maximum diameter 12.1 mm, die axis 90o, obverse two Silphium fruits set on a base, pedicels coinciding, pellet above and below; reverse Silphium fruit in an incuse square, pellet in each corner; very rare; SOLD







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REFERENCES|

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