Research, Technology

A fake coin of antiquity turned out to be real - it depicts a forgotten historical figure

More than three centuries ago, in the territoryRomanian Transylvania, several ancient Roman coins were found. One of them immediately seemed suspicious to scientists - while gods and rulers were depicted on the rest of the money, the face of a completely unknown person appeared on this coin. On its surface was engraved the name "Sponsian", which was not found in any historical document. Archaeologists have come to the conclusion that this is a fake - some fraudster must have minted it and gave it an antique look in order to sell it to an inexperienced collector for a lot of money. However, during a recent study, it turned out that the coin is genuine, and it depicts a long-forgotten historical figure. It seems that soon another person will be mentioned in encyclopedias about Ancient Rome?

A Roman coin thought to be fake turned out to be real, but that's not the most interesting thing

How scientists found the coins of ancient Rome

A suspicious coin was found inTransylvania in 1713. Outwardly, it was very similar to the ancient aureus - an ancient Roman gold coin. However, upon careful examination and comparison, it could be seen that they differ in weight and composition, and were also made with errors. The most noticeable difference was that all ancient Roman coins depict gods, famous historical figures, cities and events. And on the discovered coin appeared the head of a completely unknown person.

Ancient Roman coin depicting Sponsianus

The found coin was studied in the 19th century,ancient artifact specialist Henry Cohen. It was he who found the oddities listed above and decided that archaeologists had discovered a fake. Counterfeit money was made both in ancient times and in the modern world. Moreover, new technologies make it possible to make them extremely similar to genuine ones, with wear and tear.

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How scientists distinguished a real coin from a fake

However, in the course of recent scientific work, scientists have provided evidence that the coin is genuine and depicts a forgotten historical figure.

First of all, the coin is not counterfeit.because its maker could not have known of the existence of a man named Sponsian. The fact is that this name was found only on one very ancient tombstone with the inscription "Nicodemus Sponsian". It was first excavated shortly before the discovery of the coin in the 1700s - if it had been made by modern craftsmen, they would never have been able to come up with such an unusual and accurate name. Besides, why would counterfeiters invent the name of a historical figure, if you can take one of the existing ones?

Traces of wear on an ancient Roman coin

On top of that, the coin lay next to real money. Scientists have no doubts about this - one of them depicts the former Roman emperor Philip I the Arab.

Researcher Paul Pearson and hiscolleagues examined the coin under a powerful microscope and found scratches on it. They arose as a result of natural wear and tear during use - hardly anyone could simulate wear so well. Even in the smallest scratches on the coin, pieces of earth were found, that is, it had lain in the ground for many years. According to scientists, it was minted in 260 AD.

Particles of earth on an ancient coin

But still, it was not without oddities.While most aurei were made of pure gold, the Sponsian face coin was made with silver and copper added. The researchers ruled out the version of the modern origin of the "Sponsian coin" and decided that it was made outside of ancient Rome, from poorly refined ore.

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Who was Sponsian depicted on an ancient coin

The authors of the study concluded thatSponsian is a usurper, a power grabber. Most likely, he seized power in the 240s, but not over all of Ancient Rome. According to the researchers, "most likely he was the commander of the army in the isolated Roman province of Dacia."

Roughly crafted Sponsian coins supported a cash economy that existed locally for a significant period of time, the authors of the study concluded.

Dacia is an ancient state that arose on the territory of modern Romania, Moldova, Ukraine and part of modern Bulgaria

Ultimately, it turns out that, together with the ancientcoin, scientists learned about another historical figure, Sponsian. Perhaps in the future this information will help to find out even more details about Ancient Rome - if scientists discover something interesting, we will definitely tell about it, so subscribe to our Telegram channel.

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It is worth noting that sometimes everything happens withexactly the opposite - artifacts that were considered genuine turn out to be fake. Recently it was found out that one of the letters of Galileo Galilei is a fake. Here's how the scientists found out about it.