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Author Topic: A gold coin of a 'new' Roman emperor, Sponsianus  (Read 686 times)

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Offline Hydatius

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A gold coin of a 'new' Roman emperor, Sponsianus
« on: November 24, 2022, 11:38:37 am »
Here's a coin that scientists say dates to the time of Aurelian, but Cohen said 'that they were not only "modern" fakes, but poorly made and "ridiculously imagined"'.

What do you think? Let's have a poll.  ;D    Those who think it's authentic will also have to explain the 'IIVIR' title [edit: yes, it's a sloppy 'IMP'. Not sure how I missed that one].  ;D

https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-63636641

Richard

PS Joe, you ought to get the webmaster to allow .webp images for uploads. It's becoming a very popular format.
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Offline Lech Stępniewski

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Re: A gold coin of a 'new' Roman emperor, Sponsianus
« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2022, 11:43:49 am »
Those who think it's authentic will also have to explain the 'IIVIR' title.  ;D

I see IMP poorly engraved.
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Re: A gold coin of a 'new' Roman emperor, Sponsianus
« Reply #2 on: November 24, 2022, 12:39:06 pm »
Those who think it's authentic will also have to explain the 'IIVIR' title.  ;D

I see IMP poorly engraved.
+++

Offline Abu Galyon

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Re: A gold coin of a 'new' Roman emperor, Sponsianus
« Reply #3 on: November 24, 2022, 01:55:26 pm »
Here's a link to the original published research:  https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0274285

I don't collect gold, so I'm not sure I have any right to an opinion. Nevertheless, the coin just doesn't feel ancient to me.

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Offline Kevin D

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Re: A gold coin of a 'new' Roman emperor, Sponsianus
« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2022, 03:29:56 pm »
It looks like there is some slight doubling, which if corrected for might give a clearer IMP. Could it be old but barbarous?

Offline Sap

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Re: A gold coin of a 'new' Roman emperor, Sponsianus
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2022, 03:25:44 am »
The published research indicates the deposits adhered to the coin are consistent with ancient burial and not consistent with the artificial aging techniques employed in Transylvania in the 1700s when the coins were found.

I'm happy to accept their hypothesis that they're actually ancient and barbarous. I'm not happy to accept the concocted story about an "emperor Sponsian" who briefly ruled in Dacia. The coins were purportedly found in a single hoard in the 1700s in Transylvania along with a bunch of fake Gordian III gold coins, all clearly made the same way (casting) by the same artist. So why would we credit any authenticity to the products of a known counterfeiter?

If we accept that somebody named "Sponsian" did exist in Third Century Dacia and put his name on these coins, it could have been anybody - the goldsmith, one of the goldsmith's friends, or a wealthy landowner wanting a few pieces of gold with his name and face on it. If they want the "Emperor Sponsian" theory to be accepted, they're going to have to find some more coins, or some other archaeologically credible evidence of his existence. They didn't believe in Emperor Domitian II, until they found the second coin; Emperor Sponsian requires the same level of evidence.

If, as the academics in that article presume, there was a large and viable economy actually using these coins as money, then we should have found more than one hoard of them by now. It's not as though nobody in Romania has a metal detector.
I'll have to learn Latin someday.

Offline Lech Stępniewski

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Re: A gold coin of a 'new' Roman emperor, Sponsianus
« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2022, 07:13:28 am »
I'm happy to accept their hypothesis that they're actually ancient and barbarous. I'm not happy to accept the concocted story about an "emperor Sponsian" who briefly ruled in Dacia..

Agree. These two problems should be considered separately and should not be mixed in any way.
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Re: A gold coin of a 'new' Roman emperor, Sponsianus
« Reply #7 on: November 25, 2022, 08:24:28 am »
That was my feeling too.

The coin seems to have a solid enough provenance to be considered ancient.

However, given the preponderance of blundered, incoherent and even just random legends on "barbaric imitations" I don't find the "this is proof of Sponsianus' existence" argument entirely convincing.

I adhere to the old adage "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence".  One "barbaric imitation" is not such proof.

One article I read claimed there had been others with this legend - interesting to know if they were all from the same die or not.

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Offline Pekka K

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Offline Hydatius

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Re: A gold coin of a 'new' Roman emperor, Sponsianus
« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2022, 08:30:41 am »
Having the hoard context makes a big difference, no question, along with a proper presentation of the deposits and gold composition (below). But it still does look more modern than barbarous, and that combined with the wholesale invention of the backstory set off my alarm bells instantly. I should have done my due diligence and checked up the original article, not drawn my conclusions from the media summaries. There's a lesson there. But they should have stuck to the science and left the history to others.
Richard
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Re: A gold coin of a 'new' Roman emperor, Sponsianus
« Reply #10 on: November 25, 2022, 09:38:48 am »
I don’t see why the idea of Sponsian being real is so far out there, but I agree we can accept the antiquity of the coins without accepting he actually existed. Still, there are plenty of historical facts we know from coins alone.  Entire cities.  And maybe someday more evidence will be uncovered. 

Whatever the case is, I found the essay really interesting and the argument quite good.  And it was written in good faith by our numismatic brothers, so it certainly deserves a professional rebuttal and not to be dismissed outright IMO.  Koinon would make an excellent venue if someone wants to write one!

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Re: A gold coin of a 'new' Roman emperor, Sponsianus
« Reply #11 on: November 25, 2022, 09:39:59 am »
I posted this in the other thread but here is one of the other obverses:


Offline djmacdo

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Re: A gold coin of a 'new' Roman emperor, Sponsianus
« Reply #12 on: November 25, 2022, 09:52:02 am »
What is the date of the earliest account of the hoard supposedly containing these coins? 

Offline Lech Stępniewski

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Re: A gold coin of a 'new' Roman emperor, Sponsianus
« Reply #13 on: November 25, 2022, 10:01:01 am »
And maybe someday more evidence will be uncovered. 

Therefore, now we can only say that the existence of Sponsian is not entirely improbable. But we still have to wait for serious confirmation of this hypothesis.

Right now only these coins are real, and even if they are ancient, the images and inscriptions on them may be the pure fantasy of their creator, partly inspired by random ancient coins he saw.
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Re: A gold coin of a 'new' Roman emperor, Sponsianus
« Reply #14 on: November 25, 2022, 10:48:44 am »
What is the date of the earliest account of the hoard supposedly containing these coins?
I believe 1713

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Re: A gold coin of a 'new' Roman emperor, Sponsianus
« Reply #15 on: November 25, 2022, 10:49:59 am »
And maybe someday more evidence will be uncovered. 

Therefore, now we can only say that the existence of Sponsian is not entirely improbable. But we still have to wait for serious confirmation of this hypothesis.

Right now only these coins are real, and even if they are ancient, the images and inscriptions on them may be the pure fantasy of their creator, partly inspired by random ancient coins he saw.
I agree 100%

Offline djmacdo

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Re: A gold coin of a 'new' Roman emperor, Sponsianus
« Reply #16 on: November 26, 2022, 07:58:24 am »
So the find was not reported until some interval of years after the supposed discovery.  I think Cohen was correct when he termed the coin(s) ridiculous.

Offline Hydatius

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Re: A gold coin of a 'new' Roman emperor, Sponsianus
« Reply #17 on: November 26, 2022, 08:00:23 am »
Head of the Heberden Coin Room at the Ashmolean in Oxford and Mary Beard weight in (+ a nice picture: the surface certainly looks odd).

http://www.cnn.com/style/article/coin-fake-emperor-real-intl-scli-scn/index.html

Richard
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Re: A gold coin of a 'new' Roman emperor, Sponsianus
« Reply #18 on: November 26, 2022, 09:14:04 am »
I’m a little confused because the author is saying he had all of the affiliated curators weigh in on the issue and there is a numismatist that co-authored the study.  He also thanks Richard Abdy for his assistance.  I know Richard critiqued the theory of Sponsian being real as “full fantasy” but did he think it was an ancient imitation? It seems Jerome Mairat may be overstating the universal condemnation of the coin.

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Re: A gold coin of a 'new' Roman emperor, Sponsianus
« Reply #19 on: November 26, 2022, 10:01:08 am »
So the find was not reported until some interval of years after the supposed discovery.  I think Cohen was correct when he termed the coin(s) ridiculous.
The biggest problem is certainly the reverse.  Did the ancient artisan use a double struck reverse, or did the forger do that to make it look more real?  If the ancient artisan used that reverse why not choose a different one, as others have said? Perhaps someone knowledgeable can comment on the significance of the reverse.

Alternatively, could we be looking at really poorly made cast flans that when struck, still exhibit issues from the casting process?

I don’t know why I’m so interested in this issue.

Offline dwarf

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Re: A gold coin of a 'new' Roman emperor, Sponsianus
« Reply #20 on: November 26, 2022, 10:37:18 am »
The reverse copies a Roman Republican Denarius of C. Minucius Augurinus
To my opinion this is a very well made campaign - it boosts the interest for Numismatics.
I suppose that the paper would not have made its way into any curated numismatic journal

Regards
Klaus

Offline mauseus

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Re: A gold coin of a 'new' Roman emperor, Sponsianus
« Reply #21 on: November 26, 2022, 02:21:33 pm »
I suppose that the paper would not have made its way into any curated numismatic journal
Well, it is funny that you should say that. The Glasgow coin was in a paper in the 1997 volume of Numismatic Chronicle, explaining the circumstances of the find and the pedigree. The paper, whilst not saying anything about authenticity, suggested further work that might determine the age of the piece.

Regards,

Mauseus

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Re: A gold coin of a 'new' Roman emperor, Sponsianus
« Reply #22 on: November 26, 2022, 04:33:22 pm »
Who was the author of that NC article?

I’m really waiting to hear what Curtis and Barry think. 

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Re: A gold coin of a 'new' Roman emperor, Sponsianus
« Reply #23 on: November 26, 2022, 05:13:45 pm »
Campbell, I., A Sponsian re-discovered, Numismatic Chronicle, Vol: 157 (1997) 194 ff

https://www.jstor.org/stable/42668740

I had to laugh with the newspaper headlines on Thursday and wondered how many times can this coin be rediscovered.

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Mauseus

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Re: A gold coin of a 'new' Roman emperor, Sponsianus
« Reply #24 on: November 26, 2022, 05:47:22 pm »
Once a generation, I suppose—I had never heard of him! 1997 would have been a few years before I started collecting/studying.

 

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