For a long time, very few Roman coins were excavated in Transylvania more than three hundred years ago has been confirmed by a new analysis.
It is not difficult to see why the coin – dated to the 260s CE – may be considered false. Where most ancient coins bear the head of a king, one of the items has a strange image that is not mentioned in any other known books.
On others the name “Sponsian” is printed, the image of the history of Roman rule seems to have been forgotten.
“Scientific analysis of rare coins rescues the Sponsian king from obscurity,” says University College London geologist Paul Pearson, who led the research.
Discovered in 1713, the gold aurei coin was declared a forgery in the mid-1800s by a leading expert at the time, Henry Cohen, due to numerous errors. They differ in design and style from the real coins of their time, for example, they differ greatly in weight, distort the inscriptions and distort the inscriptions.
Imitation Roman coins were produced outside the empire at the time, and during the Renaissance as fake trinkets. Later, a famous hoax was created with matching clothes aimed at tricking collectors.
The weight of gold in the 1713 collection exceeds US $ 20,000 in today’s value. Three of the four coins held at The Hunterian Museum in Scotland over the past two centuries depict real kings, including one called Philip the Arab, but the fourth features a mysterious figure.
The name Sponsian is very mysterious, and the only other known example is from the Roman burial of “Nicodemus Sponsian” from the first century. Additionally, another example of the name was not even known at the time the coins were found.
“Here we emphasize the fact that the writings were excavated in the 1720s so that it could not be known to a fictional inventor, who therefore had to create a strange name that was later confirmed to be real,” the group explains in their newspaper.
Using ultraviolet imaging, visible light, and electron microscopy, Pearson and his colleagues discovered the coatings that covered the surface of the coins. This suggests that the tokens were widely used and spread among other currencies, and were not deliberately rejected to imitate usage. These small pieces of pottery are consistent with what was actually buried for a long time.
The coins are multi-colored, with more than 90 percent gold and small amounts of silver and copper. This differs from the two real Roman coins used for comparison, which are actually pure gold.
The Sponsian coin, in particular, has a different mixture of gold, silver, and copper that is not different from the coins measured in other coins. While this could mean the coin is a modern forgery, Pearson and colleagues say it probably means the coin was made outside of ancient Rome, “probably made from refined stone”.
Historians previously thought that Sponian may have been a brief usurper during the reign of Philip the Arab in the 240s. But the fact that Philip appears on other coins in the same group contradicts the idea that Sponsian usurped him, the researchers argue.
“These facts compel a reexamination of Sponsian as a primitive person,” Pearson and team wrote. “We think he was a military commander in the remote Roman province of Dacia during the military crisis of the 260s CE.”
Thus, although he did not rule all of Rome, Sponsian seems to have created his own little empire in the distant gold mines, with money to make iron ore and mines, perhaps after the Roman Empire came into existence. broken, the investigators are suspicious.
“We think that Dacia was removed from the palace around 260 [CE] and he distinguished himself under his military rule, which at first made precious metal using the old republican design, then used the names of the most recent kings who had done well in the area, and finally became known by the name of general. -in-chief,” the group explains.
“Sponsian’s brutally created money supported an economy that continued there for a good while.”
This may explain why Sponsian does not appear in any Roman literature, and the strangeness of the coins.
“Our evidence shows it [Sponsian] at a time when the kingdom was surrounded by civil wars and there were usurpers in its borders,” concluded Pearson.
This study was published in PLOS ONE.