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Gold Coin Proves 'Fake' Roman Emperor was Real - Ancient News


LawrenceChard

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Gold Coin Proves 'Fake' Roman Emperor was Real - Ancient News

Until today, I had never heard of a Roman Emperor called Sponsian, so was surprised to read "news" about him.

https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-63636641

Spontian.jpg.17474bdff132466a867b251ee0c4c1a1.jpg

The face of Sponsian the first, who was purged from history by experts in the nineteenth century. Researchers have now established that he was a lost Roman emperor.
By Pallab Ghosh
Science correspondent
An ancient gold coin proves that a third century Roman emperor written out of history as a fictional character really did exist, scientists say.

The coin bearing the name of Sponsian and his portrait was found more than 300 years ago in Transylvania, once a far-flung outpost of the Roman empire.

Believed to be a fake, it had been locked away in a museum cupboard.

Now scientists say scratch marks visible under a microscope prove that it was in circulation 2,000 years ago.

Prof Paul Pearson University College London, who led the research, told BBC News that he was astonished by the discovery.

"What we have found is an emperor. He was a figure thought to have been a fake and written off by the experts.

"But we think he was real and that he had a role in history."

The ruins of the Roman fort which was headquarters of the Roman military in Transylvania from where Sponsian ruled.

The coin at the centre of the story was among a small hoard discovered in 1713. It was thought to have been a genuine Roman coin until the mid-19th century, when experts suspected that they might have been produced by forgers of the time, because of their crude design.

The final blow came in 1863 when Henry Cohen, the leading coin expert of the time at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, considered the problem for his great catalogue of Roman coins. He said that they were not only 'modern' fakes, but poorly made and "ridiculously imagined". Other specialists agreed and to this day Sponsian has been dismissed in scholarly catalogues.

But Prof Pearson suspected otherwise when he saw photographs of the coin while researching for a book about the history of the Roman empire. He could make out scratches on its surface that he thought might have been produced by the coin being in circulation.

He contacted the Hunterian Museum at Glasgow University where the coin had been kept locked away in a cupboard along with three others from the original hoard, and asked if he could work with the researchers there.

They examined all four coins under a powerful microscope and confirmed in the journal, PLOS 1, that there really were scratches, and the patterns were consistent with them being jingled around in purses.

A chemical analysis also showed that the coins had been buried in soil for hundreds of years, according to Jesper Ericsson, who is the museum's curator of coins and worked with Prof Pearson on the project.
 

Under a powerful microscope, researchers saw scratch marks caused by the coins being in circulation
The researchers now have to answer the question, who was Sponsian?

The researchers believe that he was a military commander who was forced to crown himself as emperor of the most distant and difficult to defend province of the Roman empire, called Dacia.

Archaeological studies have established that Dacia was cut off from the rest of the Roman empire in around 260 AD. There was a pandemic, civil war and the empire was fragmenting.

Surrounded by enemies and cut off from Rome, Sponsian likely 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 AD and 275 AD, according to Jesper Ericsson.

"Our interpretation is that he was in charge to maintain control of the military and of the civilian population because they were surrounded and completely cut off," he said. "In order to create a functioning economy in the province they decided to mint their own coins."

This theory would explain why the coins are unlike those from Rome.

"They may not have known who the actual emperor was because there was civil war," says Prof Pearson.

"But what they needed was a supreme military commander in the absence of real power from Rome. He took command at a period when command was needed."

Once the researchers had established that the coins were authentic, and that they had discovered what they believed to be a lost Roman emperor, they alerted researchers at the Brukenthal Museum in Sibiu in Transylvania, which also has a Sponsian coin. It was part of the bequest of Baron Samuel von Brukenthal, the Habsburg Governor of Transylvania. The Baron was studying the coin at the time of his death and the story goes that the last thing he did was to write a note saying "genuine".

The coin was locked away in a cupboard at the Hunterian Museum because it was thought to have been a fake
The specialists at the Brukenthal museum had classified their coin as an historic fake, as had everyone else. But they changed their minds when they saw the UK research.

The discovery is of particular interest for the history of Transylvania and Romania, according to the interim manager of the Brukenthal National Museum, Alexandru Constantin Chituță.

"For the history of Transylvania and Romania in particular, but also for the history of Europe in general, if these results are accepted by the scientific community, they will mean the addition of another important historical figure in our history," he said.

The coins are on display at the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow.

I was thinking I need to undertake a trip to Transylvania, which left me wondering about the language barrier, now it seems like a rather more mundane trip to Glasgow, which may or may not make much difference to the language problem.

😎

 

 

Chards

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10 hours ago, Bixley said:

This story was in the DailyTelegraph today. I recently visited Romania including Transylvania. I found I could understand the locals English much better than I have ever managed in Glasgow.

Yes, I also read it in today's Telegraph print edition, but prefer to quote the BBC as its factual reporting, grammar and syntax is usually better. In addition, the Telegraph online often blocks access unless you pay.

I can usually get by in France, Germany, Italy, and even the USA, but Glaswegian usually defeats me, although we did until recently have a staff member from Northern Ireland, and I had problems understanding or even following what he was saying.

The story is interesting in that it underlines that coins provide hard and persistent evidence for much of world history over the past 2000+ years. 

True numismatics!

😎

Edited by LawrenceChard

Chards

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8 hours ago, LawrenceChard said:

The final blow came in 1863 when Henry Cohen, the leading coin expert of the time at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, considered the problem for his great catalogue of Roman coins. He said that they were not only 'modern' fakes, but poorly made and "ridiculously imagined". Other specialists agreed and to this day Sponsian has been dismissed in scholarly catalogues.

Just shows that you can never trust "experts".

Nothing changes.

Profile picture with thanks to Carl Vernon

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11 hours ago, LawrenceChard said:

Gold Coin Proves 'Fake' Roman Emperor was Real - Ancient News

Until today, I had never heard of a Roman Emperor called Sponsian, so was surprised to read "news" about him.

https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-63636641

 

The face of Sponsian the first, who was purged from history by experts in the nineteenth century. Researchers have now established that he was a lost Roman emperor.
By Pallab Ghosh
Science correspondent
An ancient gold coin proves that a third century Roman emperor written out of history as a fictional character really did exist, scientists say.

The coin bearing the name of Sponsian and his portrait was found more than 300 years ago in Transylvania, once a far-flung outpost of the Roman empire.

Believed to be a fake, it had been locked away in a museum cupboard.

Now scientists say scratch marks visible under a microscope prove that it was in circulation 2,000 years ago.

Prof Paul Pearson University College London, who led the research, told BBC News that he was astonished by the discovery.

"What we have found is an emperor. He was a figure thought to have been a fake and written off by the experts.

"But we think he was real and that he had a role in history."

The ruins of the Roman fort which was headquarters of the Roman military in Transylvania from where Sponsian ruled.

The coin at the centre of the story was among a small hoard discovered in 1713. It was thought to have been a genuine Roman coin until the mid-19th century, when experts suspected that they might have been produced by forgers of the time, because of their crude design.

The final blow came in 1863 when Henry Cohen, the leading coin expert of the time at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, considered the problem for his great catalogue of Roman coins. He said that they were not only 'modern' fakes, but poorly made and "ridiculously imagined". Other specialists agreed and to this day Sponsian has been dismissed in scholarly catalogues.

But Prof Pearson suspected otherwise when he saw photographs of the coin while researching for a book about the history of the Roman empire. He could make out scratches on its surface that he thought might have been produced by the coin being in circulation.

He contacted the Hunterian Museum at Glasgow University where the coin had been kept locked away in a cupboard along with three others from the original hoard, and asked if he could work with the researchers there.

They examined all four coins under a powerful microscope and confirmed in the journal, PLOS 1, that there really were scratches, and the patterns were consistent with them being jingled around in purses.

A chemical analysis also showed that the coins had been buried in soil for hundreds of years, according to Jesper Ericsson, who is the museum's curator of coins and worked with Prof Pearson on the project.
 

Under a powerful microscope, researchers saw scratch marks caused by the coins being in circulation
The researchers now have to answer the question, who was Sponsian?

The researchers believe that he was a military commander who was forced to crown himself as emperor of the most distant and difficult to defend province of the Roman empire, called Dacia.

Archaeological studies have established that Dacia was cut off from the rest of the Roman empire in around 260 AD. There was a pandemic, civil war and the empire was fragmenting.

Surrounded by enemies and cut off from Rome, Sponsian likely 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 AD and 275 AD, according to Jesper Ericsson.

"Our interpretation is that he was in charge to maintain control of the military and of the civilian population because they were surrounded and completely cut off," he said. "In order to create a functioning economy in the province they decided to mint their own coins."

This theory would explain why the coins are unlike those from Rome.

"They may not have known who the actual emperor was because there was civil war," says Prof Pearson.

"But what they needed was a supreme military commander in the absence of real power from Rome. He took command at a period when command was needed."

Once the researchers had established that the coins were authentic, and that they had discovered what they believed to be a lost Roman emperor, they alerted researchers at the Brukenthal Museum in Sibiu in Transylvania, which also has a Sponsian coin. It was part of the bequest of Baron Samuel von Brukenthal, the Habsburg Governor of Transylvania. The Baron was studying the coin at the time of his death and the story goes that the last thing he did was to write a note saying "genuine".

The coin was locked away in a cupboard at the Hunterian Museum because it was thought to have been a fake
The specialists at the Brukenthal museum had classified their coin as an historic fake, as had everyone else. But they changed their minds when they saw the UK research.

The discovery is of particular interest for the history of Transylvania and Romania, according to the interim manager of the Brukenthal National Museum, Alexandru Constantin Chituță.

"For the history of Transylvania and Romania in particular, but also for the history of Europe in general, if these results are accepted by the scientific community, they will mean the addition of another important historical figure in our history," he said.

The coins are on display at the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow.

I was thinking I need to undertake a trip to Transylvania, which left me wondering about the language barrier, now it seems like a rather more mundane trip to Glasgow, which may or may not make much difference to the language problem.

😎

 

 

Thank you for sharing, @LawrenceChard.

There are only 4 similar coins in the world, 2 of them in museums (England and Romania) and another two apparently in private collections.

All of them been discovered in the same thesaurus in 1713 in Transylvania.

The coin exposed in Brukenthal Museum Sibiu is very high purity, very close to 24k, weighting 9.4g.

img.thumb.jpg.d076ded4ded10bfaeb6c311ad5f08c21.jpg

 

img (1).jpg

Edited by stefffana
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11 hours ago, LawrenceChard said:

Yes, I also read it in today's Telegraph print edition, but prefer to quote the BBC as its factual reporting, grammar and syntax is usually better. In addition, the Telegraph online often blocks access unless you pay.

I can usually get by in France, Germany, Italy, and even the USA, but Glaswegian usually defeats me, although we did until recently have a staff member from Northern Ireland, and I had problems understanding or even following what he was saying.

The story is interesting in that it underlines that coins provide hard and persistent evidence for much of world history over the past 2000+ years. 

True numismatics!

😎

I saw a video the other day about a French archaeological team that did a fascinating experiment.  They set up a replica of an ancient-era mint from what evidence they had about ancient mints, quite scarce because the dies tended to be destroyed to prevent them from falling into the hands of forgers.  They then proceeded to spend a summer minting silver coins by hand - and keeping them.

Why? To measure wear on the dies.  From archaeological evidence they had a catalogue of different dies from coins found at various dig sites, and evidence of wear on those dies, so they knew how many dies had been made.  They also had decent records of what soldiers had been paid on various campaigns.  By measuring the life span of a die they could estimate the mintages of the coins and use that to make decent estimates of the size of the armies.  They also kept the coins to provide a benchmark for die wear so they could be compared to other coins found in the field.

The most amazing thing about this?  Somehow they actually got funding to do it, including buying and keeping all the silver.  I really can't imagine that ever happening in the UK, or any English-speaking country, for that matter.  

The Sovereign is the quintessentially British coin.  It has a German queen on the front, an Italian waiter on the back, and half of them were made in Australia.

 

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1 hour ago, stefffana said:

Yep. I need to review now my genealogy...

Grandpa' Sponsian...

Spoonsian...

Half of Europe is related to Charlemagne - the man couldn't keep it in his pants to save his life.  Who knows - you might indeed be related to Transylvanian royalty,

Speaking of which, has anybody noticed you never see @stefffana's reflection in any of his silver?

Edited by Silverlocks

The Sovereign is the quintessentially British coin.  It has a German queen on the front, an Italian waiter on the back, and half of them were made in Australia.

 

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5 hours ago, sovereignsteve said:

Just shows that you can never trust "experts".

Nothing changes.

 

4 hours ago, ArgentSmith said:

Possibly an ancestor of @stefffana 🤯

 

2 hours ago, stefffana said:

Thank you for sharing, @LawrenceChard.

There are only 4 similar coins in the world, 2 of them in museums (England and Romania) and another two apparently in private collections.

All of them been discovered in the same thesaurus in 1713 in Transylvania.

The coin exposed in Brukenthal Museum Sibiu is very high purity, very close to 24k, weighting 9.4g.

img.thumb.jpg.d076ded4ded10bfaeb6c311ad5f08c21.jpg

 

img (1).jpg

 

2 hours ago, Silverlocks said:

I saw a video the other day about a French archaeological team that did a fascinating experiment.  They set up a replica of an ancient-era mint from what evidence they had about ancient mints, quite scarce because the dies tended to be destroyed to prevent them from falling into the hands of forgers.  They then proceeded to spend a summer minting silver coins by hand - and keeping them.

Why? To measure wear on the dies.  From archaeological evidence they had a catalogue of different dies from coins found at various dig sites, and evidence of wear on those dies, so they knew how many dies had been made.  They also had decent records of what soldiers had been paid on various campaigns.  By measuring the life span of a die they could estimate the mintages of the coins and use that to make decent estimates of the size of the armies.  They also kept the coins to provide a benchmark for die wear so they could be compared to other coins found in the field.

The most amazing thing about this?  Somehow they actually got funding to do it, including buying and keeping all the silver.  I really can't imagine that ever happening in the UK, or any English-speaking country, for that matter.  

Going Skiing and Taking a Break from Silver Forum

 

😎

Chards

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32 minutes ago, LawrenceChard said:

 

 

 

Going Skiing and Taking a Break from Silver Forum

 

😎

Post pics of spee-on second thoughts, never mind.

And don't go on the piste with the chalet girls.

The Sovereign is the quintessentially British coin.  It has a German queen on the front, an Italian waiter on the back, and half of them were made in Australia.

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

This coin is now the subject of a number videos by Guy de la Bédoyère questioning its authenticity. As a collector of Roman coins, I agree with Guy’s conclusion that there is so much wrong with this coin that it’s almost implausible that it represents a ‘lost emperor’ - living in the UK in which we have Roman Usurpers minting coins, I have never see such a ridiculous legend especially on a gold issue. I have bronzes from the UK and other issues from short lived emperors from all over the Roman Empire and not a single coin is blundered like this coin. The new evidence is just too questionable to be accepted by the wider community. The Romans could get coins wrong but this coin is too un-Roman to be Roman but is a copy of a Roman republic issue and LRB but done really badly. 

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1 hour ago, PhilOdgny said:

Given the annual September weekend influx of Glaswegians to Blackpool this somewhat surprises me.  Do you not have any Glaswegian customers taking the opportunity to visit you while in town?

Sure, but it doesn't mean I can understand them.

I think they arrive on a "tube" train!

😎

Chards

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29 minutes ago, LawrenceChard said:

Sure, but it doesn't mean I can understand them.

I think they arrive on a "tube" train!

😎

Sounds like you could be missing out on some easy sales lol.

For learning the Glaswegian accent/dialect I recommend a period working there and primarily consorting with the ladies of an evening.

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