Did Romans lock their doors at night?

So check this out. This is a bronze Roman key that is worn like a ring. It’s 2nd-4th century AD, unearthed from a Roman settlement in Thrace/Macedonia. This is one of my favorite items. I usually try to describe it to people, and I’m all like “No, you see, it’s a key, that’s also a ring! Romans had that kind of technology!1!” For some reason, they’re not as impressed as I feel they should be. You really need to see it to appreciate its inner awesomeness.


It makes me think about where it would have been used. If it’s a ring, it suggests that it was to be kept close. Now, maybe that means protecting some kickass Roman booty, or maybe it means it was protecting some dude’s front door. This one has 8 “pins”, but it’s clear that it used to have 9. The last one broke off at some point. Perhaps that suggests it was eventually thrown away after years of use. The pins do look to be worn down on some sides. I’d like to think it was used regularly for years until finally breaking in the lock, and being replaced. If that’s true, that would also suggest it was for access to something relatively mundane, like a door. I guess treasure would be ok too.

Remember when your grandparents waxed on about how much better things were back in the olden days when nobody needed to lock their doors at night? Liars.

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