Ancient Gold Coin Proves Fictional Roman Emperor Sponsian Was Real: Study
An ancient gold coin has proven that a 3rd century Roman emperor who was previously seen as a fictional character really exists.
According to a study published in the journal Plos One, the coin bearing Sponsian’s name and portrait was found over 300 years ago in Transylvania, Romania, but dismissed as a fake artifact. When it was first discovered in 1713, at first experts deemed it authentic. However, by the mid-19th century, some suspected it was a forged coin given its crude design.
In 1863, a French coin expert also concluded that the coin was definitely not genuine. However, when Professor Paul Pearson of University College London came across photographs of the room, he suspected the verdict might have been incorrect.
According to BBCMr Pearson contacted Glasgow University’s Hunterian Museum, where the piece was kept in a cupboard and examined under a microscope. He discovered that scratches visible under a microscope prove that the coin was in fact in circulation 2,000 years ago.
Just published – a detailed study of the coins of the Roman emperor #sponsien. Long dismissed as fakes from the 1700s, we think they’re genuine! Read open access here: https://t.co/POT6SgbUrUpic.twitter.com/PzqYs9ucou
— Paul N Pearson (@pnp_history) November 23, 2022
Incidentally, the Hunterian Museum also confirmed that the piece had been buried in the ground for thousands of years, meaning someone couldn’t have tampered with them more recently. “In an academic paper published yesterday, the team behind the discovery revealed evidence that the coins, long dismissed as fakes, appear to be genuine!” the museum wrote in the caption of the Twitter post.
📢New research on ancient gold coins at The #Hunterian@UofGlasgow revealed a lost Roman emperor named #sponsien. In an academic paper published yesterday, the team behind the discovery revealed evidence that the coins, long dismissed as fakes, appear to be genuine! pic.twitter.com/UUr9yo3Oub
— The Hunterian (@hunterian) November 24, 2022
Talk to BBCMr Pearson said: “What we found was an emperor. He was a figure thought to be fake and written off by experts. But we believe he was real and played a role in the story.”
Scholars believe Sponsian was a local army officer forced to assume supreme command in the isolated Roman province of Dacia (present-day Romania) during a time of chaos and civil war around AD 260. One way for him to impose his authority was to mint coins in his image. Therefore, according to the researchers, this theory explains why the coins are different from those in Rome.
This discovery is of particular interest to the history of Transylvania and Romania and is now portrayed as the moment that literally rewrites European history.
Featured Video of the Day
How to follow the FIFA World Cup