The head of the study said he was stunned by the discovery. Now researchers have to answer the question of who this emperor was.
An ancient gold coin found 300 years ago was considered fake, and emperorand Sponsian I, depicted on it, is a fictional character. However, researchers have now discovered that both are real, and that the Roman emperor erased from history really did exist.
The coin was found in Transylvania, once a distant outpost of the Roman Empire. It gathered dust in a museum cabinet, as experts of the 19th century recognized the coin as a forgery, it is reported BBC.
However, scientists are now confident that the scratches, examined under a microscope, prove that the coin was indeed in circulation 2,000 years ago.
University College London Professor Paul Pearson, who led the study, said he was stunned by the discovery.
“We found the emperor. It was a figure that experts recognized as fictional and wrote off. But we believe that he was real and that he had a role in history,” Pearson explained.
The coin was part of a small hoard discovered in 1713. Until the middle of the 19th century, it was believed to be a real Roman coin. But then experts at the time suspected that it might be the work of counterfeiters because of its crude execution.
The cross on the coin (and after it on the emperor Sponsiniani) was placed by the leading coin expert of the time from the National Library of France, Henry Cohen. In 1863, he analyzed the coin for his catalog and came to the conclusion that it was not just a modern forgery, a “stupid invention”, but also poorly made.
Other specialists agreed with him, and to this day Sponsian is not mentioned in scientific catalogs.
However, when Professor Pearson saw a photo of the coin while searching for books on the history of the Roman Empire, he noticed scratches on the surface which he believed might indicate that the coin had been in circulation after all.
He contacted the Hunterian Museum at the University of Glasgow, where the sought-after coin was kept along with three other original Transylvanian hoards, and asked permission to work there with other researchers.
All four coins were examined under a powerful microscope and confirmed that the scratches and marks on them match the patterns of money that is usually found hanging in wallets.
Chemical analysis, according to Hunterian Museum coin custodian Jesper Eriksson, showed that the coins were buried hundreds of years ago.
Now researchers have to answer the question of who Sponsian was.
Researchers believe that he was a military leader who was forced to proclaim himself emperor of Dacia – the most remote province of the Roman Empire, which occupied part of the territory of modern Romania.
Archaeological research has established that Dacia was cut off from the rest of the Roman Empire around 260 AD.
A plague pandemic was raging, civil war was going on in the Roman Empire, the empire was falling apart.
According to Jesper Eriksson, surrounded by enemies and cut off from Rome, Sponsianus probably assumed supreme command during a period of chaos and civil war, protecting the military and civilian population of Dacia until order was restored and the province evacuated between 271 and 275 AD. is.
“According to our interpretation, he was responsible for maintaining control over the military and the civilian population, as they were surrounded and completely cut off. And in order to create a functioning economy in the province, they decided to mint their own coins,” Eriksson explained.
This theory explains why the coins do not look like Roman coins.
“They may not have known who the real emperor was because there was a civil war going on. But what they needed was a supreme military leader in the absence of real power from Rome. He took command at a time when such command was needed.” – Professor Pearson shared his opinion.
Once the researchers determined that the coins were genuine and that they had uncovered what they believed to be a historical figure that had until now been thought to be fictional, they alerted researchers at the Bruckenthal Museum in Sibiu, Transylvania, which also houses the Sponsian coin.
It was part of the inheritance of Baron Samuel von Bruckenthal, the governor of Transylvania during the Habsburg Monarchy. The Baron studied the coin before his death, and legend has it that he wrote a note with the word “genuine” – it was the last thing he did in his life.
Specialists of the Bruckenthal Museum, like all other experts, previously classified their coin as a historical forgery. However, they changed their minds when they saw the research of British scientists.
According to the acting director of the Brukenthal National Museum, Alexandru Kostiantyn Chituce, the find is of particular interest for the history of Transylvania and Romania.
“For the history of Transylvania and Romania in particular and for the history of Europe as a whole. If these results are accepted by the scientific community, it means adding another important figure to our history,” Cituce said.
Finds of archaeologists
The finds of archaeologists all over the world are sometimes surprising in their significance. For example, in September, the government Mexico announced the opening of the “impressive” archaeological monument of the ancient city. Experts suggest that this is a Mayan city. ISand the excavation site was discovered more than 300 buildings, the height of some of them exceeds 8 m. the new archaeological zone was called Paamul II.
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