Intricate and Rare Roman Key

£ 1,025.00

A very fine Roman key crafted from bronze. Formed of a loop with added prongs and main shaft, with the blade section perpendicular to the head of the key. The notch, with which to open the lock, is highly sophisticated, comprising of several sturdy pins arranged in a linear and circular pattern. This suggests the key locked away something highly valuable, and the circular loop on the head would have allowed the bearer to keep it close on a chain. While there are many examples of Roman keys, very few are this intricate and well preserved.

Date: Circa 1st to 3rd century AD.
Provenance: Ex major Spanish collection, collected 1970s-2000s.
Condition: Extremely fine, a very well preserved example.
Product Code: RES-141
Categories: ,

A surprising amount of Roman security hardware survives to this day, unveiling a highly sophisticated system of keeping valuables safe and doors locked. The most abundant items seem to be keys and lock bolts. Keys were used mainly for doors, chests, boxes, caskets, cupboards and padlocks. Less often they were used for ceremonial or decorative purposes, such as matron keys, jewellery items and votive offerings. Some keys featured loops for suspension, while others could be worn on a finger as a literal key ring.

To learn more about everyday bronze items in the Classical World, visit our relevant post: Everyday Items in the Classical World.

Dimensions L 4 cm
Region

Southern Europe

Metal

Bronze

Reference: For a similar item, Metropolitan Museum, item 74.51.5359.

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