Cyrenaica, part 4: Cyrene

Downtown Cyrene

Downtown Cyrene

Cyrene was one of the great cities of the classical Greek world, comparable to Athens, Miletus, Syracuse, and Corinth. It was founded by people from the small island of Thera (Santorini), who first settled on another small island, off the African shore, before they settled on the mainland. When the colony proved successful, other settlers came, who founded Barca, Taucheira, and Euesperides (Bengazi). Ptolemais and Apollonia were originally the ports of Barca and Cyrene, but eventually became cities in their own right.

Being Greek cities, they looked to the sea. The Arkesilas cup, which was discussed on this blog the day before yesterday, illustrates the international contacts: to Greece of course, but also to the west. There were trade contacts with Carthage, Egypt, Phoenicia, and the inhabitants of the oases in the Sahara. Ostrich eggs and elephant tusks prove contacts with people much further, beyond the Sahara. The inhabitants of Cyrenaica were very international. There were also native Libyans, who must have shared characteristics with the Psylloi and the people from Slonta.

[Read more on the blog of Ancient History Magazine]

One Response to Cyrenaica, part 4: Cyrene

  1. hirundine608 says:

    That was my Grandmother’s name, Cyrene. One of ,,, I think 13 or 14. Somehow 13 sticks in memory. … Ain’t the internet wonderful? For I wondered why that name? Having been to Thera in 1990’s. With it’s view across the basin, that was once a volcano? That’s what the tourists are told. Cheers Jamie.

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