The gold coin proves that the fictional Roman emperor was real

A coin from the Hunterian’s collection said to show a Roman emperor named Sponsian (University of Glasgow)

A recently discovered ancient gold coin has proven the existence of a Roman emperor that many thought was fictional.

The coin belonged to a 3rd century emperor named Sponsian and bore his portrait.

It was found more than 300 years ago in Transylvania, Romania, but has been dismissed as a fake artifact.

When it was first discovered in 1713, experts initially believed it to be authentic. But during the mid-19th century, some suspected it was a counterfeit coin given its crude design.

In 1863, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France’s coin expert, Henry Cohen, concluded that it was not entirely authentic.

However, when Professor Paul Pearson, of University College London, came across photographs of the coin, he suspected the verdict might be wrong.

He contacted the Hunterian Museum at the University of Glasgow, where the coin was stored in a cupboard, and examined it under a powerful microscope. Her research found that the scratches on it showed 2,000 years of wear.

Chemical analysis also confirmed that the coins had been buried in the ground for thousands of years, according to Hunterian Museum coins curator Jesper Ericsson, meaning that someone couldn’t have forged them more recently.

Explaining his find, Pearson told the BBC: ‘What we have found is an emperor. He was a figure considered a fake and canceled by the experts. But we think he was real and that he had a part in the story.”

The discovery led many to wonder who Sponsian was. Some historians think he was a military commander forced to crown himself emperor of a Roman province called Dacia.

Archaeologists have already established that Dacia was cut off from the Roman Empire around AD 260 in the midst of a pandemic and civil war.

They are speculating that, perhaps, Sponsian’s leadership was a consequence of pressure from enemy forces and lack of support from Rome. Ericsson explains that the province was finally evacuated between 271 AD and 275 AD

Ericsson explains: “Our interpretation is that he was in charge of maintaining control of the military and the civilian population because they were surrounded and completely cut off,” he said. “To create a functioning economy in the province, they decided to mint their own coins.” This would explain their crude appearance.

The discovery was published in the journal Plos One.

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