Roman coin confirms emperor's existence
February 26th, 2004
Yesterday its discovery was described by experts at the British Museum as "thrilling" and "amazing".
The coin bears the likeness of Domitian wearing a crown of rays and the inscription Imp(erator) C(aesar) Domitianus P(ius) F(elix) Aug(ustus).
It was founded by Postumus a decade earlier as Rome's authority crumbled after the capture by the Persians of Emperor Valerian who, according to legend, spent the rest of his days as a live footstool for the Persian king.
A century later two historians in Rome referred elliptically to a senior army officer called Domitianus playing a part in the affairs of the Gallic Empire. But they provided no hard evidence that he had declared himself ruler.
The only other clue to Domitian's existence was the discovery in the Loire region of France in 1900 of a single coin bearing his impression. But it was dismissed as a modern forgery.
Mr Abdy said: "I dived into the reference books and sent an e-mail to my opposite number in France who had just written a paper on the French coin and soon we had a result.
"It can't get much rarer than this. We don't have documents, only coins, and it is frustrating that we do not know more about Domitianus. We do not know where he came from and we do not know how or when he died. But we know he existed."
The find was made by Brian Malin, 30, a factory supervisor from Chipping Norton. He said yesterday: "I was about to give up for the day and go home when I picked up a faint signal on my metal detector. I found this pot and it was so heavy that it was like picking up a cannonball."
A decade ago his family found a hoard of 3,000 Roman coins which are now in the Ashmolean in Oxford. Mr Malin said: "It is like lightning striking twice. Now my ambition is to find some gold coins."