A young tourist from Nanjing, China scrawled his name Ding Jinhao onto a 3500 year-old relief in a Luxor, Egypt temple. Big mistake. Photographs of the damage quickly spread from Chinese social network sites to major news sites, and it might be indicative of a bigger future diplomacy problem for China.
Jinhao’s parents have since apologized on his behalf and said he cried all night after learning of the vigilante threats against him. The Chinese media seized upon this opportunity to remind Chinese tourists to be very careful, that they represent their homeland when traveling abroad. But there is a fear that vigilantes will deepen the damage caused by this senseless action.
The good news is that Egyptian minister of antiquities Ahmed Eissa told Ahram online that restoration is possible. Luxor’s head of antiquities, Mansour Boreik later said that the damage was not deep and that the relief has been restored.
A glance at YouTube, or any reality television illustrates the timeless human craving for fame and self-expression. This expression can take many forms, from the words “Hamad was here” scrawled across a desert and visible from Space to protest graffiti, to peaceful illusions of a better world. But senseless destruction of valuable parts of cultural history is something we need to stop before we completely lose touch with the roots of civilization.