AN ANCIENT PROFESSION
Keys and lock mechanisms first came into existence about four thousand years ago, at the first moments when modern human civilization established themselves and began to develop sciences and technologies to enable the birth and development of our modern way of life.
Even in those ancient times, the need to safeguard possessions and store them in places where nobody could access them was critical.
For that purpose, engineers, designers and scientist created first examples of locks and keys. This was done originally using wood and other easily accessible natural materials. Locks and keys offered a small manner of protection against theft or intrusion but they (as well as the use of complicated rope knots) provided evidence of tampering and impeded a thief’s success.
First models of wooden keys and locks emanate from ancient Egypt, where the first application of falling pin technology to control the movement of the security bolt came into being. The bolt could be freed from a locked position by a inserting large, cumbersome wooden key into the lock and manually lifting it upwards, displacing the pins that were gravity-held.
The Roman age introduced many improvements to this design, but the expensive nature of the locks, their inability to sustain large external forces and easy picking made them rather a symbol of wealth, influence and nobility than a theft impedance.
Small keys made from metals (iron, bronze, silver, gold) were often viewed as one of the most effective ways of publicly showing your wealth.
In current times, however, exactly the opposite objective is desired as wealth is protected, in the first instance, by ignorance of it.