pentapolis

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The archaeological site of Cyrene, Libya.

Once a colony of the Greeks of Thera (Santorini), Cyrene was a preeminent city of the Hellenic world, and was later established as a Roman province in 74 BC. It was not until the great earthquake and tidal wave of AD 365 that Cyrene fell into decline. Ammianus Marcellinus, a 4th century Roman historian and soldier, found Cyrene desolate: 

In Pentapolis-Libya is Cyrene, an ancient city, but deserted…" (Book XXII, translation via uchicago).

Shown in the first photo is the huge Temple of Zeus, its size reflective of the importance of Cyrene in the Greek world (in fact, it was larger than the Parthenon in Athens). This temple was used to honour Jupiter under the Romans. Although it was restored by Augustus, it was later destroyed in AD 115 during the Jewish Revolt. As were many of Cyrene’s public buildings, the temple was rebuilt by emperor Hadrian in AD 120. In the second photo is the necropolis (place of burial). These have been cut into the cliff, and the old necropolis contains over 2,000 tombs. Shown in the 5th photo is the Greek theatre, which was later converted into a Roman amphitheatre. The mosaic detail in the 6th photo comes from the dining room of the 2nd century house of the wealthy Jason Magnus. In the final image we have the stunning Naval Monument.

Photos taken by Sebastià Giralt.

Ptolemais in Cyrenaica (Libya)

The town was most probably founded in 7th or 6th century BC by settlers from Barca. Soon it became one of the founding city-states of the Pentapolis Federation. In 331 BC, the union was dissolved after all of its towns surrendered to Alexander the Great. After his death, the area formed part of the Ptolemaic empire. In early 1st century the region was conquered by Rome and became a separate province.

In 365, a major earthquake struck the region and destroyed all of the five major cities of the area (Cyrene with its port Apollonia, Arsinoe, Berenice, Balagrae and Barca). Ptolemais survived the tragedy in relatively good condition, and it was there that the most important authorities were moved. It served the role of a capital of Cyrenaica until 428, when it was destroyed by the Vandals. During the reign of Justinian I the city was rebuilt, but it never regained its powers and was again destroyed by the Arabs in the 7th century.

“A study of the history of the redemption of humankind reveals the Son of God, Who became a person in order to save all of us, treading the path to His voluntary passion, bearing the sin of the world, healing our wounds, fulfilling the great mystery of divine dispensation, reconciling us with God and yet in no way infringing our free will. The gate of Paradise, which had been shut, was opened; the fiery sword which guarded the entrance was removed and the voice of the Lord invited excluded humanity to enter thereby into a place of peace and quiet.
But we were left free to enter or not, as we choose.”
~Saint Nektarios of Pentapolis

(art: Cherubim And aFlaming Sword, by J. Kirk Richards)

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Cyrene, Libya

Ancient Greek: Κυρήνη (Kyrēnē) was an ancient Greek city near present-day Shahhat, Libya. It was the oldest and most important of the five Greek cities in the region. It gave eastern Libya the classical name Cyrenaica that it has retained to modern times. The city was named after a spring, Kyre, which the Greeks consecrated to Apollo. It was also the seat of the Cyrenaics, a famous school of philosophy in the 3rd century BC, founded by Aristippus, a disciple of Socrates. It was then nicknamed the “Athens of Africa”. Once a colony of the Greeks of Thera (Santorini), Cyrene was a preeminent city of the Hellenic world, and was later established as a Roman province in 74 BC. It was not until the great earthquake and tidal wave of AD 365 that Cyrene fell into decline. Ammianus Marcellinus, a 4th century Roman historian and soldier, found Cyrene desolate: “In Pentapolis-Libya is Cyrene, an ancient city, but deserted…" (Book XXII, translation via uchicago). First photo is the huge Temple of Zeus, its size reflective of the importance of Cyrene in the Greek world (in fact, it was larger than the Parthenon in Athens). This temple was used to honour Jupiter under the Romans. Although it was restored by Augustus, it was later destroyed in AD 115 during the Jewish Revolt. As were many of Cyrene’s public buildings, the temple was rebuilt by emperor Hadrian in AD 120. (The necropolis - the old necropolis contains over 2,000 tombs.)(Read More | Edit)

$92,000 Triple Siglos from Cos, Caria, c. 480/70 BC

Nude male youth in the process of hurling a discus. On the left, the prize of the contest: a huge tripod. Dotted border. On the reverse,  an irregular square incuse with diagonal lines.

Not only is the condition exceptional but it is artistically superior to the few other examples that have been in the market. This is one of the greatest coin types of the entire Greek series, as well as being a great rarity.

The Coan triple sigloi are among the most outstanding Greek coinages of the first half of the 5th century. The image refers to the athletic contests organized by the cities of the Dorian pentapolis (Cos, Cnidos, and the three cities of Rhodes: Camiros, Ialysos, and Lindos) in the sanctuary of Apollo Triopios, the Triopion on the Cnidian peninsula. The tripod at the side of the athlete is the prize of the contest mentioned by Herodotus (I 144); the victorious athlete had to donate it to the sanctuary (a custom that can be found elsewhere as well).

More about this siglos

Cos (modern Kos) is a Greek island of the group of the Dodecanese, next to the Gulf of Gökova/Cos. The island  is 2 miles from the coast of Bodrum, Turkey, and the ancient region of Caria.