Roman city,keys,field school,archaeology,bronze,metal

THE KEYS THAT OPENED SANISERA’S DOORS

Excavations carried out at the Roman city by Sanisera Archaeology Institute (Menorca, Balearic Islands, Spain) have recovered several bronze keys during the past few years. All of them were located in several rooms from buildings 10 and 11 and, due to their shape and dimensions they all seem to be door keys. Even though we have not found locks, finding keys at Sanisera means that the use of this instruments for security reasons was also common in this city of the Northern coast of Menorca.

Bronze key showing a 90-degree angle from the end of the shaft

Bronze key showing a 90-degree angle from the end of the shaft

While the first keys were made of wood, the Ancient Greeks were the first to create keys out of metal. But Romans created the basic lock concepts on which many of our modern ones are still based. Roman locks and keys spread over the known world through traders and with some help from the Great Migrations after the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD. Romans had metal keys and bolt locks as security items, the first ones usually made out of bronze and iron. Keys were used for doors, chests, cupboards, boxes and padlocks, the latter ones being a Roman innovation from the 3rd century AD.

Student showing a bronze key which was reused as spoon or spatula

Student showing a bronze key which was reused as spoon or spatula

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