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Arts and Crafts

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Key Art: Security Throughout The Ages

Throughout the ages people have tried to keep their valuables safe. Before locks and keys were invented, they resorted to pools filled with hungry crocodiles guarding their valuables which were put in blocks of wood, or knotted ropes securing the contained items.

Even doors were kept closed with ropes and you can imagine how much easier and safer it became when about 4,000 years ago the first key and lock came into existence. Its origin is not clear, but what is known is that it was made out of wood. Metal locks and keys replaced the wooden ones in the 9th century.

The all-metal locks and keys are said to be the creation of English craftsmen, but there is a little bit of controversy about that. Rumors go that the key was initially invented by Theodore of Samos in the 6th century BC.

The lock and key has been around for centuries, although not entirely in the form as we know it at present. The keys of the ancient Greeks were enormous and had to be carried over the shoulder. The keys of the Roman Era were mostly status symbols and were worn as rings around their fingers. The more keys you had, the richer you were.

Since keys not only represented security, but also status, authority, and power, they were often extremely ornate and came in many intricate designs. This was the case during the Middle Ages and most of those designs indicated where the lock would be used; keys for cathedrals and churches for instance would have the shape of a cross.

At that time, it wouldn't have been difficult to figure out where the lock might be; the design often was the key to the location!

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