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Unformatted text preview: Reading 17-2 1 READING 17-2 Source: F. Rosengarten, Jr. 1969. The Book Of Spices, p. 2396, Jove Publ., Inc., New York. Silphium Silphium was the most famous drug of the ancient Mediterranean world. The plant of the same name, from winch the drug was obtained, grew chiefl y in the hills near Cyrene (Libya), in North Africa, where it fl ourished between the seventh and second centuries BC. Large quantities were exported from Cyrene to Greece, and often it was sold by weight at the same rate as silver. By the fi rst century AD, however, the plant had virtually become extinct, possibly due to overgrazing,since it was important as cattle fodder. The botanical identifi cation of ancient silphium is not clear. It is generally believed to have been Ferula tingitana , a sweet-smelling umbelliferous plant with, thick stalks and roots that grows today as a rarity in Cyrenaica. The juice of this plant was known as laserwort juice. The name silphium has also been applied, perhaps erroneously, to a foul-smelling Persian plant of the...
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