'I was here' Chinese carving on ancient Egyptian wall is decried on Weibo

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 May, 2013, 4:15pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 May, 2013, 8:31am

Etched into a 3,000-year-old clay wall of Luxor's most fabled temple is now a strange inscription that looks nothing like what an ancient Egyptian might write.

Locals and archaeologists have made nothing of it, but one humiliated Chinese tourist was able to point out the culprit almost immediately. “Ding Jinhao visited this place,” the carving read – in modern Chinese characters.

“I tried to wipe it with a paper towel, but it didn’t come off. I didn’t dare to use water because the relic was more than 3,000 years old,” a disgraced Shen said on his Sina Weibo account. He said he apologised to the tour guide but still felt ashamed even after he was told it wasn’t his fault.

Shen's photos of the vandalism at Luxor Temple spread quickly on Weibo at the weekend, the Beijing News reported on Sunday. They showed seven Chinese characters carved into the torso of a drawing of an ancient Egyptian.

Shen’s post racked up more than a 100,000 Weibo comments by Sunday, with most users slamming whoever “Ding Jinghao” was for having "no quality" and being a national “shame”.

Shen said he hoped the matter would bring more attention to Chinese tourists’ behaviour as a reflection of China’s image abroad.

The photos also turned the spotlight yet again to poor behaviour by mainland Chinese tourists less than two weeks after a high-profile telling-off by Vice-Premier Wang Yang.

Wang had admitted that “uncivilised behaviour" by Chinese tourists abroad was harming the country’s image and lamented them for poor “quality and breeding”.

He singled out for condemnation “talking loudly in public places, jay-walking, spitting and willfully carving characters on items in scenic zones”, state media reported.

Under a new Chinese law, travel agencies will be allowed to revoke their contracts with tourists who “engage in activities that violate social ethics”, although it does not specify examples.