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Gold coin proves Roman Emperor lost to history did exist

lilolmelilolme Posts: 2,456 ✭✭✭✭✭

Full article at
https://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/63740499

For centuries, this gold coin, bearing the name of 'Sponsian', was believed to be a fake.

Written out of history, this Roman emperor was thought to never have existed.

However scientists say scratch marks visible under a microscope prove it was in circulation as a real coin, for a real emperor, 2,000 years ago.

"He was a figure written off by the experts," said Prof Paul Pearson who lead the research.

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

https://youtube.com/watch?v=2YNufnS_kf4 - Mama I'm coming home ...................................................................................................................................................................... RLJ 1958 - 2023

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    jmlanzafjmlanzaf Posts: 31,869 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Or Pearson's team is incorrect and their analysis and the original supposition that it was a fake is correct...

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    MetroDMetroD Posts: 1,935 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I am NOT knowledgable enough to have an opinion about the conclusion, but found the undertaking to be to be fascinating.

    If anyone else is interested, more details about the work conducted by the Pearson team can be reviewed here: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0274285

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    291fifth291fifth Posts: 23,936 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I'm not convinced.

    All glory is fleeting.
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    BillJonesBillJones Posts: 33,480 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November 24, 2022 6:42PM

    It does not look genuine to me, but there were obscure usurpers who had a limited number of supporters who never made it Rome to take control of the government. Usually the emperors did a lot more bragging that just referring to themselves as “IMP” (emperor). In addition to “AUG” (Augustus) at the end, there were phrases or abbreviations like “P P” “pater patrium” (father of his country).

    It also makes one wonder, where is the reverse? It’s also telling that the don’t give any dates. It resembles something from the mid 200s, but it doesn’t look right.

    Retired dealer and avid collector of U.S. type coins, 19th century presidential campaign medalets and selected medals. In recent years I have been working on a set of British coins - at least one coin from each king or queen who issued pieces that are collectible. I am also collecting at least one coin for each Roman emperor from Julius Caesar to ... ?
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    MetroDMetroD Posts: 1,935 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @BillJones said:
    [...]
    It also makes one wonder, where is the reverse?

    From another article on the Pearson led research:

    Source: https://www.sci.news/archaeology/roman-emperor-sponsian-11422.html

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    BillJonesBillJones Posts: 33,480 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November 24, 2022 6:51PM

    I am even more convinced that it’s a fantasy piece.

    Who is god or personification that is on the reverse?

    Retired dealer and avid collector of U.S. type coins, 19th century presidential campaign medalets and selected medals. In recent years I have been working on a set of British coins - at least one coin from each king or queen who issued pieces that are collectible. I am also collecting at least one coin for each Roman emperor from Julius Caesar to ... ?
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    WillieBoyd2WillieBoyd2 Posts: 5,036 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November 24, 2022 7:32PM

    The reverse of the Sponsian coin looks a little like the reverse of this Constantine coin:

    image
    Constantine Constantinople AE3 Soldiers

    Bronze, 18.0 mm, 2.19 gm, Catalog: RIC Constantinople 59
    Struck: AD 330-335 Constantinople
    Obverse: Bust facing right CONSTANTI-NVS MAX AVG
    Reverse: Two soldiers standing, holding spears, two standards GLORIA EXERCITVS
    CONSA in exergue

    :)

    https://www.brianrxm.com
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    WeissWeiss Posts: 9,935 ✭✭✭✭✭

    To my admittedly inexpert eyes, it looks like one of those contemporary Celtic copies of Roman coinage, where they got some symbology right, and some not so much. They weren't trying to deceive, they just didn't really know what they were doing or what some of the letters, words, or symbols actually meant.

    According to the article, the researchers have hypothesized that "Sponsian was a military commander who was in charge of a distant roman province called Dacia. Surrounded by enemies and cut off from the Rome due to civil war and a pandemic, its thought Sponsian crowned himself as emperor..."

    Some local strongman in a heavily disputed backwater province of...Transylvania...1,000 miles from Rome in the Carpathian Mountains, crowns himself king and makes coins he thinks look like what actual Roman empire coins would look like.

    But that doesn't make him an actual Roman emperor.

    We are like children who look at print and see a serpent in the last letter but one, and a sword in the last.
    --Severian the Lame
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    jmlanzafjmlanzaf Posts: 31,869 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @WillieBoyd2 said:
    The reverse of the Sponsian coin looks a little like the reverse of this Constantine coin:

    image
    Constantine Constantinople AE3 Soldiers

    Bronze, 18.0 mm, 2.19 gm, Catalog: RIC Constantinople 59
    Struck: AD 330-335 Constantinople
    Obverse: Bust facing right CONSTANTI-NVS MAX AVG
    Reverse: Two soldiers standing, holding spears, two standards GLORIA EXERCITVS
    CONSA in exergue

    :)

    It doesn't look very similar to me. Besides the missing lettering, it does not appear to be two soldiers on the reverse. There are, perhaps, 3 figures. Only one seems to be a soldier.

    That said, a lot of counterfeits - contemporary or modern - modeled themselves after common design elements.

    But that coin is almost definitely NOT an imperial coin. It is far more primitive. Stylistically, it looks something like some of the barbarian copies but those aren't usually gold, in my experience.

    Even if Pearson is right and a gold coin circulated, I'm not sure it does anything to prove that this is a "lost" Roman emperor. It could simply be a usurper coin, a barbarian copy or a medieval fake that circulated in commerce. Gold and silver were often used at weight.

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    jmlanzafjmlanzaf Posts: 31,869 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Weiss said:
    To my admittedly inexpert eyes, it looks like one of those contemporary Celtic copies of Roman coinage, where they got some symbology right, and some not so much. They weren't trying to deceive, they just didn't really know what they were doing or what some of the letters, words, or symbols actually meant.

    According to the article, the researchers have hypothesized that "Sponsian was a military commander who was in charge of a distant roman province called Dacia. Surrounded by enemies and cut off from the Rome due to civil war and a pandemic, its thought Sponsian crowned himself as emperor..."

    Some local strongman in a heavily disputed backwater province of...Transylvania...1,000 miles from Rome in the Carpathian Mountains, crowns himself king and makes coins he thinks look like what actual Roman empire coins would look like.

    But that doesn't make him an actual Roman emperor.

    Agreed. And I'm not sure how they put together all of that history from microscopic scratches.

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    LanceNewmanOCCLanceNewmanOCC Posts: 19,999 ✭✭✭✭✭

    for anyone trying to decipher the coin's devices, i cannot tell the possibility of clashing, vs double struck vs over-struck but something is going on. a little on the obv and what appears to be A LOT on the reverse. fwiw

    <--- look what's behind the mask! - cool link 1/NO ~ 2/NNP ~ 3/NNC ~ 4/CF ~ 5/PG ~ 6/Cert ~ 7/NGC 7a/NGC pop~ 8/NGCF ~ 9/HA archives ~ 10/PM ~ 11/NM ~ 12/ANACS cert ~ 13/ANACS pop - report fakes 1/ACEF ~ report fakes/thefts 1/NCIS - Numi-Classes SS ~ Bass ~ Transcribed Docs NNP - clashed coins - error training - V V mm styles -

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    jmlanzafjmlanzaf Posts: 31,869 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @LanceNewmanOCC said:
    for anyone trying to decipher the coin's devices, i cannot tell the possibility of clashing, vs double struck vs over-struck but something is going on. a little on the obv and what appears to be A LOT on the reverse. fwiw

    Such coins were hand struck by 2 men teams with hammers. It's not unusual to have such things

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    LanceNewmanOCCLanceNewmanOCC Posts: 19,999 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @jmlanzaf said:

    @LanceNewmanOCC said:
    for anyone trying to decipher the coin's devices, i cannot tell the possibility of clashing, vs double struck vs over-struck but something is going on. a little on the obv and what appears to be A LOT on the reverse. fwiw

    Such coins were hand struck by 2 men teams with hammers. It's not unusual to have such things

    .
    i don't know how but that seems to explain why chariots didn't have hydraulic shocks! ;)

    <--- look what's behind the mask! - cool link 1/NO ~ 2/NNP ~ 3/NNC ~ 4/CF ~ 5/PG ~ 6/Cert ~ 7/NGC 7a/NGC pop~ 8/NGCF ~ 9/HA archives ~ 10/PM ~ 11/NM ~ 12/ANACS cert ~ 13/ANACS pop - report fakes 1/ACEF ~ report fakes/thefts 1/NCIS - Numi-Classes SS ~ Bass ~ Transcribed Docs NNP - clashed coins - error training - V V mm styles -

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    TomBTomB Posts: 20,727 ✭✭✭✭✭

    That was some slim, two-minute fluff piece of a news article. Is there any peer-reviewed publication that supports this? If not, it just seems like a story made up to fill-in gaps.

    Thomas Bush Numismatics & Numismatic Photography

    In honor of the memory of Cpl. Michael E. Thompson

    image
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    WeissWeiss Posts: 9,935 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Here's an interesting 2005 academic paper of the archeological record of coins found at Dacia. The large number of imitation coins in particular:

    _The outbreak of copying of the Roman coinage in Dacia may suggest that this province was amongst those which suffered during some period or periods from a shortage of official coin supply, mainly silver. As in the western frontier provinces, in Dacia, the largest number of false coins belongs to those pieces depicting the emperors of the period AD 193–238...It can be observed that almost a quarter of the isolated silver Roman single coin finds from Roman Dacia are ancient copies of some kind of mistreated silver content. _

    https://www.academia.edu/354893/Aspects_of_coin_circulation_in_Roman_Dacia

    We are like children who look at print and see a serpent in the last letter but one, and a sword in the last.
    --Severian the Lame
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    jmlanzafjmlanzaf Posts: 31,869 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Weiss said:
    Here's an interesting 2005 academic paper of the archeological record of coins found at Dacia. The large number of imitation coins in particular:

    _The outbreak of copying of the Roman coinage in Dacia may suggest that this province was amongst those which suffered during some period or periods from a shortage of official coin supply, mainly silver. As in the western frontier provinces, in Dacia, the largest number of false coins belongs to those pieces depicting the emperors of the period AD 193–238...It can be observed that almost a quarter of the isolated silver Roman single coin finds from Roman Dacia are ancient copies of some kind of mistreated silver content. _

    https://www.academia.edu/354893/Aspects_of_coin_circulation_in_Roman_Dacia

    Now that is interesting...

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    PerryHallPerryHall Posts: 45,404 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Weiss said:
    Here's an interesting 2005 academic paper of the archeological record of coins found at Dacia. The large number of imitation coins in particular:

    _The outbreak of copying of the Roman coinage in Dacia may suggest that this province was amongst those which suffered during some period or periods from a shortage of official coin supply, mainly silver. As in the western frontier provinces, in Dacia, the largest number of false coins belongs to those pieces depicting the emperors of the period AD 193–238...It can be observed that almost a quarter of the isolated silver Roman single coin finds from Roman Dacia are ancient copies of some kind of mistreated silver content. _

    https://www.academia.edu/354893/Aspects_of_coin_circulation_in_Roman_Dacia

    I'm not familiar with the term "mistreated silver content". Is this the same as "debased silver"?

    Worry is the interest you pay on a debt you may not owe.

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    MetroDMetroD Posts: 1,935 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @TomB said:
    That was some slim, two-minute fluff piece of a news article. Is there any peer-reviewed publication that supports this? If not, it just seems like a story made up to fill-in gaps.

    IF you are asking about the research article from the Pearson-led team, it is available here:
    https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0274285

    It appears to be "peer-reviewed".

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    jesbrokenjesbroken Posts: 9,273 ✭✭✭✭✭

    If truly gold and correct size coin, what would the benefit be to make up a name on a fake coin? Just curious. Just for information purposes, I think all Roman Coins could be fakes.JMO
    Jim


    When a man who is honestly mistaken hears the truth, he will either quit being mistaken or cease to be honest....Abraham Lincoln

    Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.....Mark Twain
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    TomBTomB Posts: 20,727 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @MetroD said:

    @TomB said:
    That was some slim, two-minute fluff piece of a news article. Is there any peer-reviewed publication that supports this? If not, it just seems like a story made up to fill-in gaps.

    IF you are asking about the research article from the Pearson-led team, it is available here:
    https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0274285

    It appears to be "peer-reviewed".

    Thank you for doing the legwork. I had not seen a reference to it in the originally linked article.

    Thomas Bush Numismatics & Numismatic Photography

    In honor of the memory of Cpl. Michael E. Thompson

    image
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    WeissWeiss Posts: 9,935 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Not to beat a dead horse, but that coin looks debased, too. Much more of the pale gold silvery-gold electrum mix than the higher purity gold seen in contemporary Roman gold coins.

    We are like children who look at print and see a serpent in the last letter but one, and a sword in the last.
    --Severian the Lame
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    lilolmelilolme Posts: 2,456 ✭✭✭✭✭

    From MetroD link, a picture of the other coins in the group (similar color).

    https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0274285
    .
    .

    .
    .
    Fig 2
    Coins of the wider assemblage, and their typology.
    .

    .
    https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article/figure?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0274285.g002

    https://youtube.com/watch?v=2YNufnS_kf4 - Mama I'm coming home ...................................................................................................................................................................... RLJ 1958 - 2023

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    CaptHenwayCaptHenway Posts: 31,545 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Interesting, but I do not know enough to be able to offer an informed opinion on the piece.
    So I won't.

    Numismatist. 50 year member ANA. Winner of four ANA Heath Literary Awards; three Wayte and Olga Raymond Literary Awards; Numismatist of the Year Award 2009, and Lifetime Achievement Award 2020. Winner numerous NLG Literary Awards.
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    BStrauss3BStrauss3 Posts: 3,161 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @TomB said:
    That was some slim, two-minute fluff piece of a news article. Is there any peer-reviewed publication that supports this? If not, it just seems like a story made up to fill-in gaps.

    The PLOS article referenced up thread is what you want to read. It has some history of Dacia including a time when it was cut off from Rome yet still loyal in the 260s.

    -----Burton
    ANA 50 year/Life Member (now "Emeritus")
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    BStrauss3BStrauss3 Posts: 3,161 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Weiss said:
    Not to beat a dead horse, but that coin looks debased, too. Much more of the pale gold silvery-gold electrum mix than the higher purity gold seen in contemporary Roman gold coins.

    All the information is in the PLOS article. It is lower in gold content than the others, but not THAT low.

    -----Burton
    ANA 50 year/Life Member (now "Emeritus")
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    LanceNewmanOCCLanceNewmanOCC Posts: 19,999 ✭✭✭✭✭

    just because i randomly came across it and for posterity.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8B0s4lyAqDY

    <--- look what's behind the mask! - cool link 1/NO ~ 2/NNP ~ 3/NNC ~ 4/CF ~ 5/PG ~ 6/Cert ~ 7/NGC 7a/NGC pop~ 8/NGCF ~ 9/HA archives ~ 10/PM ~ 11/NM ~ 12/ANACS cert ~ 13/ANACS pop - report fakes 1/ACEF ~ report fakes/thefts 1/NCIS - Numi-Classes SS ~ Bass ~ Transcribed Docs NNP - clashed coins - error training - V V mm styles -

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    WCCWCC Posts: 2,370 ✭✭✭✭✭

    It depends upon someone's definition of "prove".

    By my standards, anyone's image on a coin doesn't prove they existed.

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