We do know that the Egyptians first used surface edge locks, and likely used some form of pull handle, perhaps bronze or iron, to pull the door open. The key was originally only used to lock the door. If locks are not available, people can store valuables in lockable boxes. Door handles are not necessary due to the expense of locks and security, and there are simpler and less expensive methods of operating the door.
During the Middle Ages, the sliding bolt developed by the Egyptians became more popular during this period, and we even see it featured on the doors of the famous Westminster Abbey, which also functioned as handles. Latch designs were developed further, with blacksmiths devising a loop or strap to act as a handle to open the drop lock, connected by a cotter pin that passed through the door. This means that handles can now become more decorative and refined, but since they were mainly made of metal at the time, fine craftsmanship was inconvenient.
After the 1500s, the history of doorknobs developed rapidly from here, as individual rooms became more popular. Initially, a woven tapestry would cover the doorway, then the wood would be hung on hand-forged belt hinges and bolted to the stonework to create a stronger inner door.