According to Scott J Klemm, author of Ancient Locks, The Evolutionary Development of the Locks and Key
, 2008, in Chapter I,
The So-Called Egyptian Lock, What others have said and the perpetuation of misinformation. A critical examination of the supporting archaeological evidence.
Although most lock histories state that the modern pin tumbler lock originated in ancient Egypt, there is no archaeological evidence to support this contention.
According to Giedion, the earliest evidence for a tumbler lock in Egypt is a 5-1/2 inch iron key with four prongs that was found at Drah abu'l Negga, Thebes by Howard Carter.
The key dates from the Ptolemaic or Greek period (323 - 30 B.C.).
By this time the Great Pyramid was over 2000 years old!
Klemm has researched and written a very authoritative piece on the extant evidence and the truth about Egyptian locks.
His reseach looked into Chubbs references and proved the weakness of their evidence and logic.
Authors of future books and encylopedic articles should examine this research before replicating the errors of the past.
INSTITUTION OF CIVIL ENGINEERS.
April 9, 1850. WILLIAM CUBITT, President, in the Chair.
No. 832. " On the Construction of Locks and Keys."* By John Chubb, Assoc. Inst. C.E.
THE subject of locks and keys will not, it is presumed, be uninteresting, as their antiquity,
the ingenuity that has been displayed in devising improvements in their construction,
and the great extent of their manufacture, combine to give an interest to the subject,
and to render it worthy of attention.
The most ancient lock, of the form and construction of which there is any certain knowledge, has been,
it is said, in use in Egypt for above four thousand years,† This lock was described by Eton, in his " Survey of the Turkish Empire," published in 1798, but it was not generally known in Western Europe, until the French invasion of Egypt, at the beginning of the present century, when a further account of it was given by M. Denon, in his great work on that country. The evidence of its antiquity is chiefly derived from the figure of one being sculptured among the basso-relievos which decorate the Great Temple of Karnac ; by this it was shown, that during forty centuries, the lock had undergone no sensible alteration.
This lock and its key were principally made of wood, but, in some instances, it is probable they were made of metal.‡
It is evident, however, that in the East, another lock and key,
* The discussion upon this paper extended over a portion of two evenings, but an abstract of the whole is given consecutively.
† It has been stated by Mr. W. C. Trevelyan, in " The Journal of Design and Manufactures," No. XVII., for July, 1850, p. 100, that the locks which have been in use in the Faroe Islands, probably for centuries, were identical in their construction with the ancient Egyptian locks. The Faroese locks and keys were both made entirely of wood, and so closely resembled, in structure and appearance, those found in Egyptian catacombs, as to be scarcely distinguishable from them.
‡ Some interesting information is also given in " A Sketch of the History of Ancient Door Fastenings, &c,," by Edward Higgin, Esq. Excerpt from a paper read before the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, 7th February, 1850. Tract, 8vo. 1850.