An ancient gold coin has proven that a third-century Roman emperor, previously thought of as a fictional character, really existed.
According to a study published in the journal Plos One, the coin bearing the name Sponsian and his portrait was found more than 300 years ago in Transylvania, Romania, but dismissed as a fake artifact. When it was first discovered in 1713, experts initially considered it to be real. However, in the mid-19th century, some suspected it to be a counterfeit coin, given its crude design.
In 1863, a coin expert from France also came to the conclusion that the coin was definitely not authentic. But now that Professor Paul Pearson, of University College London, came across photos of the coin, he suspected the verdict might be wrong.
According to the BBC, Mr Pearson contacted the Hunterian Museum at the University of Glasgow, where the coin was kept in a cupboard and examined under a microscope. He found that scratches visible under a microscope prove that the coin was indeed in circulation 2,000 years ago.
Just published – a detailed study of coins of the Roman Emperor #sponsor. Long dismissed as 18th century fakes, we think they are authentic! Read open access here: https://t.co/POT6SgbUrUpic.twitter.com/PzqYs9ucou
— Paul N Pearson (@pnp_history) November 23, 2022
Separately, the Hunterian Museum also confirmed that the coin had been buried in the ground for thousands of years, meaning someone couldn’t have counterfeited them recently. “In an academic paper published yesterday, the team behind the discovery revealed evidence that the coins, long dismissed as counterfeits, appear authentic!” wrote the museum in the caption of the Twitter post.
?New research on ancient gold coins at The #Hunterian@UofGlasgow has revealed a lost Roman emperor named #Sponsian. In an academic paper published yesterday, the team behind the discovery revealed evidence that the coins, long dismissed as counterfeits, appear authentic! pic.twitter.com/UUr9yo3Oub
— The Hunter (@hunter) November 24, 2022
Speak against BBCsaid Mr Pearson: “What we found is an emperor. He was a figure who was thought to be a fake and was written off by experts. But we think he was real and that he played a part in history.”
Researchers believe that Sponsian was a local army officer forced to assume supreme command in the cut-off Roman province of Dacia (present-day Romania) during a period of chaos and civil war around AD 260. One way for him to impose his authority was to mint coins with his image on them. Therefore, according to researchers, this theory explains why the coins are different from those from Rome.
This discovery is of particular importance for the history of Transylvania and Romania and is now portrayed as the moment that literally rewrites European history.
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