The gold coin was found in Romania in 1713. In the Roman heyday it was a border area of the Roman Empire. It concerns a so-called aureus, a gold coin with the image of an emperor.
The coin was called a “modern ill-made counterfeit” by leading coinage expert Henry Cohen in 1863. Partly because of this, it was assumed that the emperor depicted on it, Sponsianus, did not really exist. The coin then disappeared into the collection of the University of Glasgow.
However, new research from University College London shows that the coin is indeed real. Scratches and nicks on the coin allowed scientists to deduce that the coin was in circulation some 2,000 years ago. Chemical research also showed that the coin had been buried for at least hundreds of years when it was found.
The research therefore concludes that Sponsianus must have really existed. He is said to have conquered the Roman Empire with a revolt around 240 AD and to have reigned briefly.
Investigator Paul Pearson is convinced that he and his team have “found” a Roman emperor. “Sponsianus has long been thought to be a fictional historical figure, written off by experts. But with this discovery we believe he was real, and played a part in history.”