House of the Lock

As I sit, alone, in Israel on the last of this year’s many travels in the Middle East I am reminded of one of the better, funnier remarks my sons made during our travels.  Wesley, my eldest — after finishing one of the many long visits I forced him to endure at some ruin or archeological site — said:  “Just because something is old doesn’t make it interesting.”

I like ruins.  And I like museums.  Correspondingly, my wife and children have been taken to many, many such places during this year of our travels.  They just didn’t want to see more of what they consider ‘the same’ in Israel (while I’m eagerly anticipating a packed itinerary:  Jersusalem, Golan Heights, Nazareth, Masada, etc, etc, over the next couple of days).

So, here is a short entry about a true ‘pile of old rocks’ . . . the Bait al-Qufl, or ‘House of the Lock’ which is a structure unique to the Musandum Penninsula (the little isolated rocky headline belonging to Oman which juts out toward Iran and nearly cuts the Arabian Sea from the Indian Ocean).  It seems the villagers in this remote area would leave their homes for the entire summer, taking their flocks up into the cooler mountains.  To avoid carrying all their earthly possessions up the steep Musandum slopes, they devised small stone storage houses with ingenious, hidden, stone-locking doors.  They then packed all their valuables up in the rooms, sealed them, and went on holiday in the hills until the summer heat grew tolerable again.

All that remain of these houses are a few foundations, a few piles of stones.

I allowed my boys to sit in the air-conditioned car while I scampered through the ruins, snapping a few photos.  Personally, I feel it it’s Not Quite Right of my children to be prejudiced against old things just because they are old. (The ‘old‘ remark felt a little personal, perhaps).  But, I have to admit that this barren-looking photo makes a pretty strong argument in their favor.

Two 'Houses of the Lock' near Khasab, Oman.





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