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Heritage Auctions, Inc.   |   World Coins & Ancient Coins #3066   |   17 August 2018 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Lot 30080

Estimate: 10'000 USD   |   Starting price: 5'000 USD Price realized: 16'800 USD
CYRENAICA. Barce. AR tetradrachm (25mm, 17.18 gm, 10h). NGC Choice AU 4/5 - 5/5, Fine Style. Silphium plant / BAP, head of Zeus Ammon right in all within prominent dotted border, outline of round die visible. Jameson 1343b. SNG Lockett 3463. Artistic masterpiece with underlying luster. Silphium, a rather mysterious plant that grew wild in the environs of Cyrene, was widely used as an all-purpose seasoning and medicament in the classical ancient world. Important to the local economy, it was frequently shown on the coins of Cyrene, including this splendid tetradrachm. It was said to be something of a wonder drug, used to treat cough, sore throat, fever, indigestion, and other maladies, in addition to its alleged use as a contraceptive (or abortifacient), or perhaps even an aphrodisiac. Its heart-shaped seed pod or fruit may have originated the attachment of that shape to love and romance. Modern herbalists suspect it was a type of giant fennel belonging to the gens ferula. Ancient writers were convinced silphium had gone extinct due to over-harvesting and over-grazing by animals. Pliny the Elder reported that the last known stalk of silphium found in Cyrenaica was given to the Emperor Nero "as a curiosity."HID05401242017

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