The gold coins bearing the effigy of a 'ghost' of history, the usurper of the Roman Empire Sponsiano, are authentic: discovered in Transylvania in 1713 and until now considered fakes, they would actually be true as well as the only proof of the he existence in life of this mysterious army commander, who allegedly took power illegitimately in the Roman province of Dacia around 260 AD This is suggested by the scientific analyzes conducted on the finds by researchers from University College London and the University of Glasgow.
The results are published in the journal Plos One.
Although the coins found in Transylvania are similar in style to mid-3rd century Roman coins, they differ in some features and in the way they were produced, leading many experts to dismiss them as forgeries.
On the other hand, though, the coins are unusual compared to the forgeries that would have been of interest to past collectors.
Furthermore, in 1713, 'Sponsiano' was not known as a name that actually existed in ancient Rome.
To shed light on the mystery, researchers led by Paul Pearson conducted a more in-depth investigation of the coins using different techniques such as optical microscopy, ultraviolet imaging, scanning electron microscopy and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (Ftir ).
The analyzes revealed deep micro-abrasions typical of coins that have been in circulation for a long time.
The chemical composition of the earth deposits on their surface also demonstrates that the coins were buried for a long time before being unearthed.
These clues, put together, therefore indicate that the coins are authentic.
“Scientific analysis of these ultra-rare coins saves Emperor Sponsianus from anonymity,” comments Pearson.
"Our evidence suggests that he ruled Roman Dacia, an isolated gold-mining outpost, at a time when the empire was beset by civil wars and the borderlands overrun by looters."