North Africa

Before the first millennium BC, the only part of Africa for whose history there survive written records is the Nile Valley. The remainder even of North Africa had remained beyond the limits of the activities and knowledge of the literate civilizations of the eastern Mediterranean. But from around 800 BC there took place an extension of the sphere of the literate civilizations which brought the North African littoral west of Egypt for the first time within the bounds of recoverable history. This came about through the maritime expansion of two eastern Mediterranean peoples, the Greeks and the Phoenicians. These two peoples were not in origin related, though there was much commerce and reciprocal cultural influence between them, and they were always in competition and often in open conflict.


The Greeks, whose language belonged to the Indo-European family, had spread from mainland Greece to occupy Crete and the islands of the Aegean and the western coast of Asia Minor. The Phoenicians, who spoke a Semitic language closely related to Hebrew, inhabited Canaan, the coastal area of what is now the Republic of the Lebanon. Neither people, though both were conscious of a distinct nationality, constituted an integrated political entity. Both comprised numerous self-contained 'city-states'. The maritime expansion of the Greeks and Phoenicians had two aspects: the development of trade, especially the search for new sources of foodstuffs and metals; and the removal by colonization of the excess population of the homelands.

Kings of Numidia. 60-46 BC. Utica Mint. Juba I. AR Denarius. 17mm 4.01g 10h.  Obv: REX• IVBA, diademed, draped, cuirassed bust right, hair in three rows of ringlets with more ringlets radiating from crown, scepter over near shoulder / Neo-Punic legend. Rev: Octastyle temple or portico entrance with narrow staircase and narrow pedimental roof raised above entablature. MAA 29: SNG Copenhagen 523. NGC MS 4/5, 5/5.

KINGS of MAURETANIA. Juba II, 25 BC - AD 23/24. AR Denarius, 19mm, 2.81gr, dated RY 42 (AD 17-18), Caesarea mint. Obv. REX IVBA, head of Hercules right, within dotted border. Rev. Capricorn right, R•XXXXII (date) below, all within dotted border. Mazard 211; SNG Copenhagen 587. A stunningly beautiful coin with a multicolored iridescence of opalescent lilac and aquamarine. NGC MS★ 5/5, 5/5.

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