'Fake’ Roman emperor proved real by ancient coins that turn out to be genuine

11/24/2022 9:40:00 PM

The coins, thought to be forgeries, are genuine and bear emperor Sponsian's likeness.

Ancient Roman coins long thought to be forgeries after being discovered over 300 years ago are almost certainly genuine after all, suggests a new study.

The coins, thought to be forgeries, are genuine and bear emperor Sponsian's likeness.

London , said: ‘For much of ancient Roman history, Roman mints produced coins featuring portraits of current emperors.BBC News Image caption, The face of Sponsian the first, who was purged from history by experts in the nineteenth century.BBC News Image caption, The face of Sponsian the first, who was purged from history by experts in the nineteenth century.By Tom Symonds Home affairs correspondent, BBC News Police will text 70,000 people to warn them they have been victims of a banking scam in the UK's biggest anti-fraud operation.

‘In 1713, a group of such coins was allegedly discovered in Transylvania, some of them featuring a portrait labeled with the name Sponsian, although there are no other historical records that a Roman emperor named Sponsian ever existed.‘While the Transylvanian coins follow the general style of mid-third Century Roman coins, they diverge in certain stylistic characteristics and in how they were manufactured, leading many experts to dismiss them as forgeries created to sell to collectors.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.’ One of the coins showing Emperor Sponsian (Credit: SWNS) ‘However, the coins are also uncharacteristic of the forgeries that would have been of interest to past collectors.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.‘Additionally, in 1713, Sponsian was not yet known to be a name that had ever existed in ancient Rome.Believed to be a fake, it had been locked away in a museum cupboard.’ To further investigate the Transylvanian coins’ authenticity, Prof Pearson and his colleagues conducted a deeper assessment of the physical characteristics of four of the coins, including the Sponsian coin.He said the criminals involved were responsible for the "industrialisation of fraud".

They applied visible light microscopy, ultra-violet imaging, scanning electron microscopy, and reflection mode Fourier transform infra-red spectroscopy to the four coins and, for comparison, two undoubtedly authentic Roman gold coins.Prof Paul Pearson University College London, who led the research, told BBC News that he was astonished by the discovery.Prof Paul Pearson University College London, who led the research, told BBC News that he was astonished by the discovery.Experts employed a range of techniques, like visible light microscopy, to examine the coins (Credit: SWNS) The analysis revealed deep ‘micro-abrasion’ patterns associated with coins that were in circulation for an extensive period of time.The research team also analysed earthen deposits on the coins, finding evidence that after extensive circulation, they were buried for a prolonged period before being exhumed.He was a figure thought to have been a fake and written off by the experts.Prof Pearson said that, together, the new evidence ‘strongly suggests’ the coins are authentic."But we think he was real and that he had a role in history.Considering the historical record alongside the new scientific evidence obtained from the coins, the researchers suggest that Sponsian was an army commander in the Roman Province of Dacia, in present day Romania, during a period of military strife in the 260s AD." Image source, Paul Pearson Image caption, The ruins of the Roman fort which was headquarters of the Roman military in Transylvania from where Sponsian ruled.Detectives are aware of the risks of using a text message to contact victims of fraud who may have been targeted through their mobile phones.

The haul of coins was unearthed in 1713 and currently sits in a Scottish museum (Credit: SWNS) Prof Pearson said: ‘Scientific analysis of these ultra-rare coins rescues the emperor Sponsian from obscurity.‘Our evidence suggests he ruled Roman Dacia, an isolated gold mining outpost, at a time when the empire was beset by civil wars and the borderlands were overrun by plundering invaders.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.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.’ Jesper Ericsson, curator of Numismatics at The Hunterian museum in Glasgow, added: ‘This has been a really exciting project for The Hunterian.‘Not only do we hope that this encourages further debate about Sponsian as a historical figure, but also the investigation of coins relating to him held in other museums across Europe.He said that they were not only 'modern' fakes, but poorly made and "ridiculously imagined".’ The fndings were published in the journal PLoS One.Other specialists agreed and to this day Sponsian has been dismissed in scholarly catalogues.This allowed them to pose as employees of banks including Barclays, Santander, HSBC, Lloyds, Halifax, First Direct, NatWest, Nationwide and TSB.

MORE :.But Prof Pearson suspected otherwise when he saw photographs of the coin while researching for a book about the history of the Roman empire.

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