Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology & the Ancient World
Box 1837 / 60 George Street
Providence, RI 02912
Telephone: (401) 863-3188
Fax: (401) 863-9423
Since most scholars point to the global prevalence of keys, it is fair to say that keys can be found the world over. There are a handful of societies that do not (or did not) use keys, however they also lack other characteristics which the Western world would attribute to a 'modern' culture. Think of so-called primitive societies, which by definition lack signs of economic development or modernity (and keys are an essential part of modern living in the developed world). Since our idea of the key necessitates technological advancements such as metalsmithing, a less advanced society simply doesn't have the ability to create keys. Some examples include: the indigenous people of Papua New Guinea Highlands, Africa, and the South American jungle. However these isolated patches of non-key socities are small enough that it is a safe assumption to say that keys are found world-wide.
While we constantly talk about the 'lock and key' it is sometimes hard to forget that they are physically separate; the key is an entirely mobile object, and therefore keys can technically travel anywhere. This mobility creates a web of connections the world over between a key and it's reciprocal lock. While the invention of duplication and locksmithing have reduced the montumetnal implications of loosing a key, there still remains a connection between a key and where it is meant to be used.
A Graveyard of Lost Keys
With the complete mobility of keys in mind, perhaps it is a better question to ask is, Where are locks found? Yes, they too are found almost world-wide, but to be more site specific, locks are found on the entry points of spaces. Some examples are as follows:
Back to The Key main page