Books and Papers

Adam, Alexander, Roman Antiquities, 6h ed., Glasgow, 1835 (Incredible compendium of all aspects of Roman life. Door fittings page 451) (Fulford, British-Byzantine post-Roman trading)

D'Allemagne, Henry Rene' , Decorative Antique Ironwork, Dover Publications, Inc., New York, 1968 (Roman keys, p.68)

Anon. Guide to the Antiquities of Roman Britain, 2nd ed., published by the Trustees of the British Museum, 1958 (Seal box and drawings of padlock & chest lock mechanisms)

Anon. Ver den Schlussel nicht ehrt . . . Deutches Schloss-und Beschlagemuseum, Velbert, 1990, 95 pages, hardbound, glossy paper

Anstee, J.W.,  The Examination, Interpretation and Replication of an Iron Lock from Lullingstone Roman Villa, Kent  The Antiquaries Journal, v. 81, p. 395, 2001 (Excellent detailed description of a flat Roman barrel/chain lock)

Bailey, Gordon, Detector Finds 5, Greenlight Publishing, 2002 (iron and bronze keys and an odd bolt)

Bass, G. F. et al. Serce Liman: The Ship and its Anchorage, Crew, and Passeengers, 2004.  Chapter 23, The Padlocks, Cemal and Sema Pulak  (Description of four Byzantine padlocks from the 11th century)

Beckwith, John. and Krautheimer, Richard., Early Christian and Byzantine Art, 1986

Bedoyere, Guy de la, The Finds of Roman Britain, B.T. Batsford, London, 1989 (2 keys, a key handle and a bolt)

Biasiotti, Adalberto, Chiave Serrature e Luchetti Pompeiani, distributed on CD, 1998

Birley, Andrew Vindolanda, Research Reports, New Series, Volume IV, The Small Finds, Fascicule II. Security: The Keys and Locks, 1997)

Bishop, M.C. Finds from Roman Aldborough. Oxbow Monograph #65, 1996 (seal boxes, bolts, keys)

Boetzkes, Manfred, Sammlung Pankofer, Schlussel und Schloser aus drei Jahrtausenden, 1983, (48 page booklet showing an exhibit of the Pankofer collection, 1983, 1.5 pages of text on Roman locks)

Boetzkes,Manfred et al., Handwerk zur Industrie, Neuerwerbungen Seit 1981, (39 page pamphlet, exhibition catalog of the Deutschen Schloss-und Beschlagemuseums. Velbert)

Borali, Roberto, Le Antiche Chiavi, Tecnica. Arte, Simbologia, Burgo Editore -Bergamo, 1993 (4 pages of text and illustrations of Roman keys)

Brunner, Der Schlussel im Wandel der Zeit (Reconstruction of a Roman bolt-lock from Augst,with the correspohdhg lift-and-slide key)

Bury, S., Rings, 1985

Collingwood, R.G. and Myres, J.N.L.,Roman Britain and the English Settlements, Biblo & Tanneni, New York 1990, p. 233

Connolly, Peter Pompeii, (1979)

Cook, Edward T., A Popular Handbook to the Greek and Roman Antiquities in the British Museum, London 1903

Cuming, H.S., The History of Keys, Journal of the British Archeological Association, vol. 12, pp. 117-129, June 1856

Cunliffe, Barry, Fishbourne, a Roman Palace and Its Garden, Johns Hopkins Press, 1971 (mention of keys & seal boxes)

Curle, James, A Roman Frontier Post and its People, The Fort of Newstead in the Parish of Melrose, Glasgow, 1911 (online ref.  (casket fittings, keys, tablets, styli, lock parts, seal boxes, seals)

Declerc, Raf, Lem, Jacques and Vanloocke, Danny, Open of Dicht, Geschiedenis van Sleutel en Slot, Litto Security Locks, 1998  (many Roman keys and several locks)

Declerc, Raf, Keys and Locks in the Collection of Raf Declerc, 2004 (Many Roman, Byzantine and Medieval Locks & Keys, text in Dutch, French and English)

Dennis, Geoirge, The Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria,.Chapter :LVI, Cortona, London 1848  (Mention of a lock found in an Etruscan tomb)

Eras, V.J.M. Locks and Keys Throughout the Ages, 1957 (A Brief treatmentof Roman keys)

Ewald, Jurg et al, ed. Jahresberichte aus Augst und Kaiseraugst, 11, 1990 (description of 12 Roman iron barrel locks found at Augst, and a reconstruction)

Fugate, Gary D., I n Search of an Era, Society for Ancient Numismatics, Vol. XI, No. 2 (Summer 1980)

Galvaris, George, Bread and the Liturgy, 1970 (History of the bread stamp)

Gasper, Dorottya 1986 Romische Kastchen aus Pannonien. Antaeus. Mitteilungen des Archaologischen Instituts der Ungarischen Akademie der Wissenschaften 15, Budapest: Archaologisches Instutut der UAW. (Roman chests)

Gibbons, Gail Locks & Keys 1980

Gilman, Daniel C., et al., The New International Encyclopedia, New York, 1906

Gorny, R. and Steadman, S., Cadir Hoyuk Excavarions  ( surface lock)

Green, Miranda, Aspects of Roman Life: Roman Technology and Crafts., Longman Group Ltd., 1979 (includes brief section on mining and metalworking)

Guide to the Exhibition Illustrating Greek and Roman Life, British Museum, Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities, 1908 (

Guiraud, Helene, Bagues et Anneaux a l'epoque Romaine en Gaul, Gallia 46, 1989 Google Books, section on type 5, ring keys)

Hayes, John W. Greek, Roman and Related Metalware in the Royal Ontario Museum, 1984 (Chest hasps)

Haywood, H. L., Freemasonry and the Roman Collegium, in The Builder, 1923 (

Higgin, Edward., Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, session 2, no. 4, February 7, 1850, p. 57. Sketch of the History of the Ancient Modes of Fastening Doors.  (This is the Google online version)

Hopkins, Albert A., The Lure of the Lock, the John M. Mossman Collection, NY, 1928. ix, 246pp, 190 illus. 21 1/2 cm. Reprint 1954. (Brief treatment of ancient locks & keys)

Hoepfner, Wolfram, Ein Kombinationsschloss aus dem Kerameikos, Archaologischer Anzeiger, Band 85, No. 2: 210-213, 1970 Walter de Gruyter & Co., Berlin (Detailed description of a Roman chest combination lock found in a grave in Athens. [in German])

Holmes, Simon, Seal Boxes from Roman London(Very useful study, including dating,  online at

Ivanisevic, Vujadin and Spehar, Perica, Early Byzantine Finds from Cecan and Gornjistreoc (Kosovo), Early Byzantine Stratum  (Simple iron door keys, lock plate fragments and a chain)

Jacobi, Louis, Das Romerkastell Saalburg Bei Homburg Vor Der Hohe, 1897  ((in German) many examples of Roman door and chest locks, bolts, keys, fittings)

James, Peter and Thorpe, NickAncient Inventions, Balantine, 1994 (Google Books)

Johns, Catherine, The Jewellery of Roman Britain, (Google Books. p.63 discussion of marriage rings)

Johnston, Harold, The Private Lives of the Romans, Scott, Foresman & Co. (1932)  (Sect. 418 on small tradesmen at Pompeii)

Jones, William, Finger-Ring Lore, Historical, Legendary, Anecdotal, London 1877

Judge, Joseph, ed., A Buried Roman Town Gives up its Dead, National Geographic, vol. 162, no.6, Dec/ 1982

Kenner, Friedrich  (see Romischer Alltag in Bayern p.155)

Kunz, G.F., Rings for the Finger, Dover Publications, 1973, Republication of 1917 book.

Lise, Giorgio, Chiavi E Serrature (Locks and Keys), BE-MA Editrice, Milano, 1987.

Long, G., The Roman Collegium, in A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, William Smith, 1875 (*/Collegium.html)

Malloy, Alex G., Artifacts of Ancient Civilizations, 1st ed., 1997

Malone, Sara M., Lost-wax Casting in the Classical World (Archaeological evidence, including the Berlin Foundry Cup from the 6th century BCE, depicting Greek foundry scenes)

Mandel, Gabriele, Clefs, 2001 (Roman & Byzantine locks & keys)

Manning, W.H.  An Iron Lever Lock from Caerleon, Monmouthshire, The Bulletin of the Board of Celtic Studies, v. 22, Part 4, May 1968  (Description and deduction of the mechanism of a Roman barrel/chain lock)

Manning, W.H. Catalogue of the Romano-British Iron Tools, Fittings and Weapons in the British Museum, London 1985 (Locks & Keys and their classification)

Manning, W.H. Catalogue of the Romano-British Ironwork in the Museum of Antiquities, Newcastle upon Tyne, 1976 (5 iron Keys)

Marshall, F.H., Catalogue of the Finger Rings, Greek, Etruscan and Roman, of the Department of Antiquities, British Museum London, 1907  (Google Books) ( Reference for Etruscan Ring Key)

McWhirr, Alan Roman Crafts and Industries, Shire Publications, 1982 (Padlock diagram and page of iron keys)

Middleton, J. Henry, The Remains of Ancient Rome, 1892

Mills, Nigel Roman Artifacts Found in Britain Greenlight Publishing, 1995 (3 pages devoted toRoman keys)

Mills, Nigel Celtic and Roman Artifacts, Greenlight Publishing, 2000 (mostly duplication of mateial from Roman Artifacts)

Monk, Eric, Keys, Their History and Collection, Second edition, 1999 (very brief treatment of Roman keys)

Murawski, Paul G. Benet's Artefacts of England & the United Kingdom, 2000 (Seal boxes and ring keys)

Needham, Joseph, et al., Science and Civilization in China: Physics and Physical Science, p. 243, 1965

Notling, Ernst, Studies Concerning Old Roman Door and Trunk Locks, J. Schneider, Mannheim 1870 (Have not been able to obtain  a copy of this)

Oikonomides, Nicolas, Dated Byzantine Lead Seals, Dumbarton Oakes Research Library and Collection. 1986 (Google Books) (Detailed analysis of changes in content and style vs date of production)

Pall, Martina, Das Europaische Vorhangschloss, 2009  (Some 25 pages of Roman and Byzantine locks)

Pankofer, Heinrich, Sammlung Pankofer , 1983 (Some Roman and Byzantine padlocks)

Pitt-Rivers, Primitive Locks and Keys, 1883 (very useful, great amount of material on Roman locks and keys)

Price, George, Treatise on Fire and Thief-Proof Depositories and Locks and Keys, London, 1856 (Illustrations of Roman keys)

Quennell, Marjorie and C.H.B., Everyday Life in Roman and Anglo-Saxon times, 1959 (1.5 pages of text and drawings of Roman door and chest locks)

Raffaelli, Umberto et al Oltre la Porta, 1996, 335 pages, softcover (locks and keys from prehistory to the 19th century. Very extensive discussion of Roman locks & keys, which unfortunately I have not yet translated).

Read, Brian, Metal Artefacts of Antiquity, Portcullis Publishing, 2001 (keys & seal boxes)

Rehren, Thilo, Small Size, Large Scale Roman Brass Production in Germania Inferior, J. Archeological Science, vol. 26, issue 6, August 1999

Riech, F., und Schalles, H.J., Arbeit, Handwerk und Berufe in der Romischen Stadt, Rheinland-Verlag, 1994 (Images of Roman lock parts)

Riha, Emilie, Kastchen, Truhen, Tischen - Mobelteilen aus Augusta Raurica, vorschungen 31 (A great amount of material on the chest locks found at Augusta Raurica, and many reconstructions of Roman chests with locks. Perhaps the definitive work on this subject)

Romischer Alltag in Bayern, 125 Jahre Bayerische Handelsbank in Munchen, 1869-1994, Festschrift, Geschichten aus der Bayerischen Handelsbank, Munchen 1994

Russo, Flavio, Rossi, Cesare, and Rosso, Ferruccio, Ancient Engineers' Inventions: Precursors of the Present, History of Mechanism and Machine Science 8  Springer  (Google Books)  (Reconstructions of pin tumbler chest lock and spring mechanism padlock)

Schmoeckel, Ingo, Vorhangeschlosser, Sammlung Ingo Schmoeckel. 2000

Singer, et al., A History of Technology, vol.2, The Mediterranean Civilizations and the Middle Ages, c. 700 B.C to A.D. 1500, Clarendon Press, 1956

Smith, Charles Roach, Illustrations from Roman London, 1859 (Plate 37, Roman keys)

Smith, William, A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875 (Page 978: definition and image of a pyxis)

Soren, David and James, Jamie, Kourion, the Search for a Lost Roman City, Anchor Press, 1988 (Excavation of a City destroyed by earthquake in 365 CE. Dating a Roman ring key)

Strong, Donald. and Brown, David, Roman Crafts., 1976 (Extensive discussion of Roman bronze casting)

Tanavoli, Parviz & Wertime, John T. ,  Locks from Iran, Washington, 1976

Thompson, Hugh, Iron Age and Roman Slave-Shackles, Archeol. J., 150 (1993), 57-168

Towne, Henry R., Locks and Builders Hardware   (Historical section, discusses Roman locks and keys)

Vaudour, Catherine, Catalogue du Musee le Sec des Tournelles, Fascicule II, Clefs et Serrures (Roman keys)

Vikan, Gary and Nesbitt, John, Security in Byantium, Dumbarton Oaks, Byzantine Collection. Publications, 1980 (Keys, padlocks, chest locks)

Ward, John, The Roman Era in Britain, Methuen & Co., London, 1911 (Discussion and illustration of many artifacts, including locks, keys, trinket boxes. See also web site listed below: etc.)

Westropp, Hodder M., Handbook of Egyptian, Greek, Etruscan and Roman Archaeology, 2003.

Wilson, Nigel Guy, ed. Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece, Routledge,2006. (Mention of Byzantine seals)

Wright, Thomas, Uriconium, a Historical Account of the Ancient Roman City, Longmans, Greek & Co., 1872  (Google Books)  (Shows four different types of keys found)

Zara, Louis, Locks and Keys, Walker & Co, New York, 1969 (Good discussion of Roman keys)


Online References-         


Note: the following references are guides to information that has been available at various times in the last few years. Web sites come and go, and experience shows that one should assume that simply addressing these sites as given will fail. Better to regard them as hints to information that exists somewhere! If all else fails, contact me, since in many cases I do have paper copies of text and digital copies of images.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ (writing tablets, stylus, seal boxes)  (try searching on Stoke tablets) (Roman houses, security, diagram of pin tumbler lock)   (try searching on Stoke Roman houses) (Large iron box padlock) (Image of Roman lock and key in the Louvre)  (Listing of sellers on eBay who traffic in fakes) (Figural Byzantine horse) (Recovery of submerged Roman ship from the Rhine, Netherlands, with cabinet, including lock and key)  (Reconstruction of rotary and slide key locks from finds at Krefeld) (Image of Roman door from sarcophagus)  (Roman/Byzantine escutcheon) (excellent summary of the development of the Roman theatrical masks.) (Source of verdigris paint kits)  (Incidental illustration, no reference given) (Image of figural lion door key) (Roman padlocks from Augusta Raurica) (Image of hasp bent at 90 degree angle to fasten into top of case) (Post-Roman Byzantine imports into Western Britain and Ireland) (Drawings of 5 interesting Roman keys) (Guide to archaeological reports on Roman non-ceramic finds) (Fastening for lock plate) (History of locks) (Roman Houses, arca, outer doors with bolts & bars) (Student summary of topics from Roman Life, Mary Johnston, Scott, Foresman, Glenview,IL., 1957) (Lots of images of fake bronze items)'s grave_c  (Lombard padlocik) (Corinium Museum collections database, categories: lift key, rotary

key, padlock, lock, chain, seal box, slide key)  (Several nice, very complex Roman keys) (Entitled A Roman Frontier Post and its People, by James Curle, 1911.  Plate 78 shows keys and lock parts found) (Photo of Roman face lock, North Lincolnshire) (Entry point to large number of artifacts excavated in Britain, including many refs to Roman locks & keys) garland/collections/72157600630450700/  (Roman locks & keys in European museums)  (Image of barrel lock) (illustrations of Greek and Roman door keys and locks) (Johnston's Private Life of the Romans, chapter 6., The House and Furniture)  (Boxy Byzantine iron padlock from Turkey) (Lock types found in central Germany) (Image of combination lock knobs and a double bolt with key inserted) (Gallo Roman bronze arca or offering box, complete with ring key) (Line drawings and text descriptions of several types of Roman padlocks from Saalburg, presented by Assa-Abloy) (Images of the four padlocks found in the Serce Limani 11th century Byzantine shipwreck excavation) (Small finds database, Internet Archaeology 9, Hunter-Mann Finds catalogue. p.19, locks & keys) (Internet Archaeology 9, Iron Age and Roman Copper Alloys from Northern Britain) (Locks & Keys from Georgia)  (Simple mention, no sources or images) Bri . . . .) (Seal boxes). .  (Roman doors and locks)  (Many images of ancient and medieval locks) (Roman jewellery)  Phrygian, Mel Copeland (Translating the Phrygian Language, includes many interesting images, including the Etruscan bowl mentioned)

http://www.medal-project.en/home.html (Surface analysis of patina on bronze attacked by chloride) (Box with sleeping Eros) (Bronze closing mechanisms in Roman Dacia)

http://muzarp.poznan/muzeum/muz_pol/Arena/kowalewko/kowalewko_main_eng.html (artifacts from Roman graves in Poland, caskets and contents. Best to just search on kowalewko.) (conservation of iron objects) 21,2009  (Mention of 40 excavated book locks)

http://www.nsf/discoveries/disc_images(Ornate Byzantine padlock found at Chernesos) (Lock bolts, locks, keys at Thrislington)  (Why finds skew the Roman lock records) _Britain/_periods/Roman/_texts/WARREB/12*.html  (Etruscan locks & keys)

http://www.prosphora,org/page37.html  (Bread Stamp Physics) (Lovely bronze chest lock group with figural hasps and decorative rings in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. Also Etruscan locks & keys)) (Image of Roman iron door hinge) (The Roman House, arca) (image of 7 Roman keys)  (2 unusual Rus padlocks) (lock found in a barrow, made in the shape of a butterfly, perhaps from Iran) (History of Locks) Riha-Emilie; 2001 Schwabe & Co. AG Basel Kastchen, Truhen, Tische - Mobeltgeile aus Augusta Raurica (German: Title means "Boxes, chests, tables - pieces of furniture, parts from Augusta Raurica") (The History of Locks)  The votive key or Byzalora, by P.H. Resco (Discussion of votive keys in antiquity)  (Good discussion of Roman shops) (William Thayer, William Smith Dictionary of Greek & Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875. (arca, capsa, casarii, capsula, scrinium)

http://www/  (Much about seals) (History of locks) (2003 excavations, including writing tablets and an enamelled seal box with contents) (Images of capsa, scrinium, strongbox) (Roman chests found at Pompeii) . . . (Roman seal box, found at Birch Abbey) (Reference for origin of the screw-key padlock) (Late Roman ivory casket) (Reference to the development of the screw key lock)  (Forum on fakery)


                Other Lock-Related Sites Not Referenced Directly  (Database of recent finds in Pannonia, including at present 16 keys and 7 tumbler lock bolts) (Museum of all things lock related, housed in a historic building in Mountain View, CA)  (Good in-depth discussion of Roman seal boxes found in Britain)


Last update  June 19, 2016                                                                   Thank you, Charles Martel