Today I found a really amazing key that comes to us all the way from Egypt! This key is labeled as “The Key of Life” and is from a hotel room from the Shepeard’s Hotel in Cairo. It’s dated from March 1921, making it one of the older keys in our collection. This beautiful ivory key was brought to us by Felix VanCleff and is mostly likely one of our earliest acquired keys.
|Key donated by Felix VanCleff in March of 1921|
The symbol found on this key is one that is important to the Egyptian culture, meaning “life” and also being very closely related to deities. Many pharaohs and gods are depicted holding this looped cross, named Ankh, in ancient hieroglyphics. The origin of it are unknown as it is such an ancient symbol, but two popular theories include that it is shaped like a sandal because they share the same word root and sandals were vital to Egyptian life, which was fitting as it was a symbol for life. The other theory is that it is modeled after the goddess Isis’ belt buckle, as she is often a symbol of fertility, which is closely related to life. Both of these are accepted among scholars and provide insight into ancient life.
|Ancient Egyptian statue holding an ankh in each hand|
We have keys from all corners the world here at the Baldpate, so why don’t you come down and check them out for yourself!
Victoria Witkowski, Museum Curator