National Geographic : 1957 Feb
many Arabs elsewhere, Protectorate tribesmen believe that if a man does not bury his clipped nails, but leaves them strewn carelessly about, he will be forced on Resurrection Day to pick them up with his eyelashes! The custom in regard to a child's first teeth struck me as quite charming. When a young ster pulls out a wobbly "milk" tooth, he doesn't put it under his pillow and hope that a good fairy will replace it with a dime. In stead, he tosses it at the sun and exclaims: "O eye of the sun, take the tooth of the ass and give me the teeth of a gazelle!" Abdullah's people lived substantially as their ancestors before them. We passed many of his tribesmen as we progressed down the Wadi Balharith, their camels laden with salt quarried from the mines of Ayyidin to the north. Some, whose goatskin water bags were empty after their long trek, we were happy to be able to help. "I, the King of Qataban" On our route eastward the next day, bound for the Hadhramaut with two of the sheik's brothers, we passed traces of a civilization far older than theirs. At Qohlan, for example, we crossed a field of ruins where a tall stone stele records the proud boast of a first-century B. C. ruler-"I, the King of Qataban, in my city of Qohlan"-and lists a long line of towns and principalities over which he ruled. Ameri can archeologists, among them Dr. William F. Albright, have excavated here. The Arabs can no longer decipher this lost script, and the place names are no more than legendary to them. But they are dimly aware from the crumbled water works and massive foundations still found in the Protectorate that their land once held a much richer, more populous, and more powerful culture. We passed on. Long, dry days in the grav eled desert were our portion, but at night we slept under a curtain of stars while the sand gave back to the sky its heat. Sometimes tribesmen appeared from nowhere to stand 247 Eyebrow Arches Garnish the Windows of the Kathiri Palace in Saiun Coated with lime, the sultan's home dazzles be holders in the midday sun. Walls show the pro nounced slope that prevents collapse of the Hadhra maut's immense mud structures. Harem dwellers reach the topmost apartments by trudging up a flight of more than 100 steps. Townspeople loiter in the public square on the chance that Sultan Husain may emerge and dis tribute gratuities.