A young tourist who scrawled his name on the almost 3,500-year-old Luxor Temple in Egypt has drawn the ire not of Egypt but his home country of China.
The graffiti, which translates roughly as “Ding Jinhao wuz here,” was etched onto the the Luxor’s wall engravings with a rock. A photo of the tag was taken by a different tourist and posted on China’s Twitter-like Sina Weibo microblogging site.
The photo has caused outrage in China, where only last week Chinese visitors to foreign countries received an official admonition to straighten up and fly right. There is much hand-wringing in China over the image of the country abroad and the graffiti has been highlighted as an example of why China has such a poor reputation.
The rapid spread of the photo has prompted what is called in China a renrou suosou - a “human flesh search,” in which Chinese Internet users attempt to expose individuals to public humiliation for online content perceived as offensive. The search has prompted other individuals named Ding Jinhao to publicly declare or prove they have never been to Egypt in order to avoid repercussions.
Meanwhile, the real Ding Jinhao has reportedly been outed as a 15-year-old student in Nanjing, whose parents have apologized on his behalf, saying he was young at the time and just copying what he had seen done elsewhere.
Interestingly, the photographer’s tour guide in Egypt allegedly saw no reason to blame the boy, saying it was the tour guide’s responsibility to prevent vandalism.
The government of Israel has just completed a $2 million restoration of the ancient Nabatean city of Avdat, The Jewish Press reports.
Avdat is in the Negev Desert and was one of the westernmost points on an extensive incense trade network the Nabateans built stretching as far as the southern Saudi peninsula that flourished from the 3rd century B.C. to the 2nd century A.D. Incense was important in rituals for many civilizations, especially for Roman funerals. The trade network began to wither when Romans converted to Christianity and stopped needing incense to cover up the stink of their cremations.
The extensive ruins include houses and an acropolis with a Nabatean temple. Avdat later became part of the Roman and then Byzantine Empire. Remains of a Roman military camp and a Byzantine church can be seen there. The church has a floor made up of marble tombstones with still legible epitaphs. Like in the more famous Nabatean city of Petra, a sophisticated irrigation system allowed for agriculture and even vineyards in the harsh desert region. The residents even had enough water to make themselves a bathhouse.
The city was destroyed by an earthquake in the 5th century and was rebuilt. Another earthquake in the 7th century finished it off.
The site, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, suffered vandalism in 2009. The vandals pulled down columns, smashed stones and wrote graffiti over parts of the site. They were never caught. Now Avdat has been completely restored and the local archaeologists boast that it’s better than it was before.
Avdat hit the news last year when it was discussed in historian Tom Holland’s book “In the Shadow of the Sword,” in which he suggests that Muhammad was from Avdat and not Mecca. He also calls into question much of the Muslim tradition for its own origins. The book was criticized by scholars and Holland even received death threats, presumably not from scholars.
The site is in Avdat National Park, so a visit to the ruins can also include hiking and wildlife photography. Check out the gallery for some images of this amazing site. If it looks a familiar, that’s because it was the site for the filming of “Jesus Christ Superstar.”
[Photo courtesy Urij]
Two weeks ago we reported that the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem was vandalized. Now Israeli police have detained three men in connection with the crime.
All three are ultra-Orthodox Jews and have confessed, police said.
The front of Yad Vashem was covered in Hebrew graffiti, including slogans such as, “Thanks Hitler for the wonderful Holocaust you organized for us. Only thanks to you we got a state from the UN.”
Some members of the ultra-Orthodox community don’t recognize the state of Israel, saying it shouldn’t exist until the coming of the Messiah. The BBC reports that some radicals even believe that Hitler and top Zionists plotted to create the Holocaust so that the Jews could create Israel, which has got to be the dumbest conspiracy theory we’ve ever come across, and that’s saying something.
The defacement was signed, “world ultra-Orthodox Jewry.”
The men are due to appear in court today.
Photo courtesy USHMM/Belarusian State Archive of Documentary Film and Photography. Click link to read the names of these children.
Ireland’s famed Lia Fáil Standing Stone, better known as the “Stone of Destiny,” has been vandalized.
The stone, which stands upon the Hill of Tara in County Meath, was smashed with a hammer on all four sides. Chips broke off from it but were not found, suggesting that the culprits took them.
The stone is the traditional coronation site for the ancient High Kings of Ireland, semi-mythical rulers about whom little is known for certain. The last king was supposed to have been crowned there around the year 500 A.D. The stone was said to be magical and when the rightful king touched it, the stone would roar in approval.
The stone is a menhir, or lone standing stone, dating back to the Neolithic some 5,500 years ago. Many megalithic monuments such as menhirs and stone circles were seen as magical by later cultures.
This is the latest of several acts of vandalism against ancient sites. Unrest in Syria has led to destruction and looting of archaeological sites. In Israel, a 1,600-year-old synagogue mosaic was wrecked by ultra-orthodox Jews. Then there are the oil pipelines passing through Babylon in Iraq.
At this rate of ignorance and greed, there won’t be any ancient sites left for our grandkids to admire.
[Photo courtesy Andrew Dietz]
A design of a reindeer hidden in the back of a Welsh cave may be the oldest cave art in the UK, archaeologists say. Sadly, it’s been vandalized.
Unlike the more familiar cave paintings of France and Spain, the reindeer is scratched into the rock instead of being painted, like this horse from the Scottish cave of East Weymss courtesy Europe a la Carte. No photo of the reindeer has been released for public use, but you can see it in this BBC video. Incised designs are common in Paleolithic art, but are less known to the general public because they’re not as impressive as the giant paintings of caves like Lascaux and Altamira.
Archaeologists date the carving to about 12,500 years ago, a time when prehistoric hunter gatherers stalked reindeer and wholly mammoth across an Ice Age landscape.
It was discovered last September but its location kept a secret as the team studied it. Unfortunately, someone found out about the discovery and tried to scrape the carving away. Instead of it potentially becoming a tourist destination, now it will probably be gated over. Yet another example of one idiot ruining it for the rest of us.