EGYPTIAN AND ROMAN LOCKS


The need to secure one’s belongings emerged with the evolution of human society. The first mechanical door locks were invented in ancient Egypt about 6000 years ago. Their pin tumbler mechanism was carved out of wood.

A wooden post was attached to the door. A horizontal post containing the pins was slid into the post to lock the door. A wooden key about the size of today’s toothbrush was shaped to fit the pins and holes. Lifting the key released the pins and allowed the door to open. The Romans improved the mechanism by crafting their locks and keys out of metal, so the locks were stronger and the keys small enough to hang on a pendant or ring. (See my blog of March 30, 2015 for images of Roman keys worn on rings.)

In THE DEADLIEST FEVER, Miriam explains how security in the Great Synagogue was improved:

The Egyptian wooden pin-tumbler locks have been replaced with the newest Roman ones with these steel springs. So, they can be locked and unlocked only with a key and from only the outside. And as for the doors themselves, we’ve restored them all, including the bejeweled doors to the sanctuary.

Unfortunately, Miriam would have to learn the hard way that locks can stop only some intruders. To see the book trailer, click here.

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