North Africa, Cyrenaica, Cyrene, Drachm

The city of Cyrene in North Africa owed its wealth to Silphium, a plant as highly estimated by the Greeks as later by the Romans. Silphium was extremely expensive, as the plant was thought to have almost magical attributes. The Roman scientist Pliny the Elder noted around the middle of the 1st century AD that Silphium was equiponderate to silver denarii in Rome. Cyrene depicted this fabulous Silphium on many of its coins; this drachm from about 460 BC is an early example. The reverse features the head of Ammon (Amun), the god of fertility and the major deity of Cyrene.