Chinese Tourist Damages 3000-Year-Old Temple in Luxor

The carving reads "Ding Jinhao was here."

The carving reads “Ding Jinhao was here.”

A Chinese tourist damaged a 3,000-year-old site in Luxor causing outrage in China and Egypt after photographs taken by an embarrassed Chinese tourist were publicly shared on Chinese social media.

The tourist carved “Ding Jinhao was here,” while visiting Luxor in Egypt. Chinese social media and newspapers were quick to condemn and identify the offender, and the incident has attracted widespread criticism in China with headlines such as “China’s Tourist Shame.” The vandalist has reportedly been identified by Chinese internet users as a 15-year-old  middle-school student from Nanjing.

Shortly after the outrage, Ding Jinhao’s parents issued a statement to Chinese media.

“We want to apologize to the people of Egypt and to people across China,” said Ding’s mother.

According to Chinese bloggers, several tourists attempted to remove the markings themselves, resulting in the white smudge that appears in the photograph above.

In recent statements to the media, The Ministry of Antiquities confirmed earlier reports by Egyptian Streets that it is currently investigating the case. The Ministry also stated that the markings are superficial and can be easily removed to restore the temple wall to its original state.

The damage had remained unreported on Egyptian media until several days after the original photograph was posted on weibo and several hours after Egyptian Streets first wrote about it. Egyptians and non-Egyptians have expressed outrage at the damage, with many calling on Egyptian authorities to exercise greater efforts to ensure the protection of Egypt’s antiquities.

The incident highlights the lack of security and enforcement of rules that are meant to protect and preserve Egypt’s historic sites.

The Karnak and Luxor Temples as well as the Valley of the Kings are very popular with tourists, but concerns over safety have led to a sharp decline in tourists in recent months.

[This article was updated at 2:28AM, May 28th, 2013]


19 Comments on Chinese Tourist Damages 3000-Year-Old Temple in Luxor

  1. I find this very sad.. We as Egyptians should put in more effort towards the maintenance and preservation of Egyptian artifacts.


  2. force all chinese tourist to pay for a guard guide… as they obviously cant handle themselves with respect towards others…
    also regarding all the hunting of endangered species ,like rhino shark and such , lets start hunting down their own pandas , their pelts are super comfy and are great for ass wiping…


    • LOL – and make all such guard guides learn to speak Mandarin? The Chinese only ‘lease’ out their pandas…so you might be confusing your ‘ass wiping’ experience with some other creature who had the bad fortune to have been skinned for your toileting needs. I prefer toilet paper myself. Much easier to find in the supermarket aisle!


  3. Reblogged this on The Drabble Writer's Table and commented:
    Coincidentally, and on the theme of my last post ‘art’ versus ‘graffiti’, I find the whole conversation around this single act by a Chinese student on an ancient Egyptian monument quite interesting! There are lots of values coming out in the commentary; from racism and suggestions of corporeal punishment; the balance of tourism advantages and risks; the sensitivities of religious practices vs. displaying the remains of other human beings (even if they are long dead); and the rise of China’s purchasing power in the tourism market coupled with the need for education and respect for other cultures being lost in the knee-jerk reactions is quite fascinating.
    – Alexandra


  4. Anonymous // May 30, 2013 at 2:56 am // Reply

    Only word come to my mine is “Chinese”, enough said.


  5. Reblogged this on Mentalist! and commented:
    Like it’s the first time!


  6. Anonymous // May 29, 2013 at 5:29 am // Reply

    Stupid is as stupid does…


  7. that is so wrong for someone will do something like that wall mean so much to a lot people by damage a wall that is 3000 years old


  8. That only shows how far from respect and knowing the heritage people are. With the same success the guy could’ve put his name on the Great Wall or any of the terracotta warriors.. So sad that a ‘student’ traveled all the way to Egypt to write down his name, but not to admire and learn..


  9. “Idiot” is the word that comes to mind. I have been there and it was a privilege to see, to deface such a beautiful piece of history is criminal.


  10. Reblogged this on طبيب حر الى آخر العمر and commented:
    that’s how or treasures are being treated ,no apology enough his family must be prohibited from visiting Egypt lifetime,China must make it up,fix it and pay for the damages,no money’d compensate


    • Not just his family but all his nation must be banned to enter Egypt. and he must have been hanged and buried beside if he want’s his name to last would be nice on his grave! they hang people in china if they deal with drugs such as hash!! Honestly if i saw him i wouldn’t hesitate killing him!


      • …and that is how wars begin, Haitham. Let the man who did not make a mistake (especially in his teenage years) cast the first stone… yes, it was a pretty stupid thing to do. Not the smartest place to stick one’s ‘tag’ – but repairable by all accounts. Compared to fundamentalist treatment of the ancient Amiyam statues in Afghanistan….or the construction of the Aswan dam… or even Egypt’s strong domestic history of grave robbing through the ages…. I imagine that the international ‘loss of face’ the Chinese have suffered as a result of this report going viral will mean that the kid’s life, and that of his family, has already been irreparably compromised. Pretty hard for the boy’s family in an environment of state-dominated control and the one-child policy. Sure – make a call to ban all Chinese tourists from entering Egypt – that will only deny Egyptian businesses the ability to make money from the rising superpower that is China. Your response (and others like it) bear little resemblance to rationality! The power of forgiveness is still a pretty amazing thing. I recommend trying it.


        • ” make a call to ban all Chinese tourists from entering Egypt – that will only deny Egyptian businesses the ability to make money from the rising superpower that is China” >>what or which superpower !! well am a tourist guid worked all my life in tourism and believe me those kind of tourist doesn’t add any thing to Egypt except the piasters they pay for entrance of arcilogical sites or maybe the hotel they stay in which is already also nothing and they already start to flood in streets selling their product and even they reached to sell to bedwin on the north coast & in our western desert which even some egyptians never been there!! just to sell their stuff!! and tourist are acctually well known and chinies were never on tourist list so when they appeared that’s a result!! 2nd about wars starts wars never start caz banning some nation and i can list for u many countries banned the others such as last situation between Russia and america 🙂 and i really donno about afganestan and Aswan dam is not an antiq it’s just like 50 year old and who requested making it was the most stupied president of Egypt who destroyed Egypt acctualy and it was built by the sovit union so what they do in our talk!! but robbing of egyptian tombs across the ages yes! u say robbing domastic !! well most where english and french treasure hunters and robbers and even if!!if a robber will be caught he will be puneshed quite fine but not destroying such a pretty and beautifull art like that which we will have to see it like that infront of us all the time!! for what ! to just put his name!!! Reminds me with BELZONI- THE SHAMLESS MAN who wrote his name inside the pyramide but at list in empty place!! u recomend me to try the power of forgiveness???? 1 question FOR EX. DO U THINK IF A TEEN AGER EGYPTIAN GO TO CHINA WITH HASH IN HIS POCKET OR EVEN FIND IT THERE AND SMOKE AND HE WAS CAUGHT AND ARRESTED WILL THEY HAVE THIS POWER OF FORGIVNESS?>> firing squad / lethal injection !! but for us we can smoke in street it’s normal and the vistors can do so too and if some one caught they probably forgive him and live him go home ! but destroying and robbing our monuments that’s really horribole each one has his view!!
          and free in his opinion and country to ban or not ban PLEASE TRY TO BE FAIR IT’S AMAZING))) I RECOMMEND TRYING IT)) Thank You.


          • Hi Patrick – As a tourist guide your responses are somewhat confusing. You claim that tourists don’t ADD anything to Egypt – yet it is the source of your livelihood and many others too. You already have tourists paying for transport, accommodation, food, souvenirs and entrance to sites… What else is there TO DO? I got this list from a quick survey of general internet sites; Travel – by falouccas / air-conditioned cruises / hot air balloons / quad bikes / bicycles / camels / horses… Visit a papyrus factory….Look at modern art… Go stargazing… Eat – Lot’s of restaurants, a small number of wineries and cuisine cooking schools….Resorts – pools and some with golf courses. Some sports fishing tours.

            Unless you are prepared to research your market and develop some diversification into ‘experiences’ that you simply cannot get elsewhere, or can only obtain in an ‘egyptian’ way, it will be hard to compete with the many archaeological sites. If this is not about tapping into the global drawing power of your country’s spectacular history, how do you propose to divert money from elsewhere to achieve this?

            China as the rising superpower. Yes, the ascension of the ‘Asian Century’ is upon us and China & India are right up there. The cold war between the old USSR and the USA is history, and even the remains of the Berlin Wall (with all that graffiti on it) being torn down recently has caused concern that people might forget what it represented.

            Maybe Egypt’s tourism industry should be doing some deeper analysis of the increasing spending power of the Chinese middle class. Put it this way: If I was an endangered animal with body parts that are considered valuable to traditional Chinese medicine, I would be very worried about the survival of my species. They have BUYING power, and plenty of it! The Chinese have also worked out how to maximise the return on their ‘living national treasures’: all captive pandas (an extremely endangered species) are ‘leased’ by the Chinese government to zoos, with the foreign funds thus raised being used to fund preservation of wild panda populations within China.

            On today’s news I see that the very successful Bridge Climb company that operates on the Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia has put on extra Mandarin-speaking guides because of the huge growth in Chinese tourists. The Chinese don’t even have a word for ‘bridge-climb’ in Mandarin!

            Maybe if you don’t like tourists misbehaving when visiting your country, you should lease your moveable objects to other countries so that the tourists can stay at home…or get royalties from those countries that charge admissions to see their Egyptian relics (whether obtained by legal or illegal processes). Three years ago my visit to the Musee de Louvre in Paris was complemented by being able to get up close to the Egyptian artifacts and sculptural works. Did I feel more comfortable as a solo western woman travelling with a child in Paris than contemplating going to Egypt? – YES! Did it give me the experience of sailing down the Nile or haggling in a souk? – NO!

            However, sharing your moveable objects around is an insurance policy too – like not having ALL your eggs in one basket. What happens if there is a catastrophic disaster in one part of the world that damages most of your built or moveable culture?

            You missed my point about the Aswan Dam – I realise it is not an antiquity – but it did involve moving a lot of large building complexes and sculptures or else lose them underwater. It might have made a great diving site if it wasn’t such an environmental disaster.

            Re different standards in different cultures – that is part of the plus and minus of being a tourist. If you drop litter in Singapore (in every place except Raffles hotel where the whole idea of dropping peanut shells on the floor is part of the attraction) or even chew chewing gum you will be fined. Extreme? Yes – but it makes for a very clean city (as long as you don’t mind stepping over piles of peanut shells in one bar!)

            Maybe Egyptian tour guides can benefit from travelling the world themselves. Just be sure to leave your hashish at home and look at what you can contribute to the world by being both an understanding host and sensitive tourist. Not everyone is perfect and to be honest, it does cut both ways! It does help to know where conflicts and wars are happening, and that it is probably best to avoid those places. 🙂


            • Alexandra,

              That was a very informative and very well thought out comment. I agree with your logic. I wonder if the tables were turned and either they or someone they know made that mistake, if the responses would be as harsh.


  11. Ruben Papadopoulos // May 28, 2013 at 6:20 pm // Reply

    You can also look at it this way: Modern capitalism has transformed these ancient artworks into a sideshow to gain tourism money. There is no reverence, no respect. The chinese tourist who wrote on the wall only added to the artwork. In a couple of hundred years (hopefully) they will look back at this wall and say: “That was so typical of a shallow culture where only profit exist. This teaches us alot about human history.”


  12. januainferni // May 28, 2013 at 5:15 pm // Reply

    A raptus, it’s called Stendhal syndrome.


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