Sponsian coin | Photo: Pearson PN, Botticelli M, Ericsson J, Olender J, Spruženiece L (2022) Authenticating coins of the ‘Roman emperor’ Sponsian / Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.
A mysterious Roman coin depicting Emperor Sponsian was found in Romania at the beginning of the 18th century. In the 19th century, researchers found that it was a fake, which was made either in ancient times or even later when such artefacts were extremely fashionable.
In recent weeks, the coin, which is housed in the Hunterian Museum at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, has been re-examined. The research results have been published in the journal “Plos One”. As it turns out, the electron microscope confirmed that the coin has traces of damage. In turn, the ultraviolet proved that the scratches on the surface of the coin are traces of use and not the intentional actions of counterfeiters.
Researchers believe that the coin is real and that the emperor, also referred to as Sponsianus, really existed and commanded the Roman army in Dacia around 260 CE. Dacia at that time was strongly isolated from the rest of the Empire, and in order to maintain power, Sponsian could usurp power and try to prevent invasions. As a result of constant barbarian attacks across the Danube in 271 CE, Emperor Aurelian finally gave up the lands of Dacia and based the border on the Danube.