Cyrene - A settlement in Cyrenaica
Cyrene was an ancient Greek and Roman 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. Located nearby is the ancient Necropolis of Cyrene.

According to Greek tradition, Cyrene was founded in 631 BC as a settlement of Greeks from the island of Thera. It promptly became the chief town of Libya and established commercial relations with all the Greek cities, reaching the height of its prosperity under its own kings in the 5th century BC. Soon after 460 BC it became a republic. In 413 BC, during the Peloponnesian War, Cyrene supplied Spartan forces with two triremes and pilots. After the death of Alexander the Great (323 BC), the Cyrenian republic became subject to the Ptolemaic dynasty.

In 74 BC Cyrene was created a Roman province; but, whereas under the Ptolemies the Jewish inhabitants had enjoyed equal rights, they were allegedly increasingly oppressed by the now autonomous and much larger Greek population. Tensions came to a head in the insurrection of the Jews of Cyrene under Vespasian (73 AD, the First Jewish–Roman War) and especially Trajan (117 AD, the Kitos War).

Cyrene's chief local export through much of its early history was the medicinal herb silphium, used as an abortifacient; the herb was pictured on most Cyrenian coins. Silphium was in such demand that it was harvested to extinction; this, in conjunction with commercial competition from Carthage and Alexandria, resulted in a reduction in the city's trade.

Modern location: Shahhat, Libya

(1) Trajan 100 AD
AR Hemidrachm Cyrene | Caesarea
Obverse: Laureate head of right; AYT KAIΣ NEP TPAIAN ΣEB ΓEPM
Reverse: Head of Zeus-Ammon right; ΔHMAPX·EΞ·YΠAT·Γ
Ref: BMC 57-58. Sydenham 176