‘Ding Jinhao was here’ scrawled on a 3,500 year-old Egyptian relief
Image credit Kongyouwuyi/Newspoint
 
We’re used to reporting damage and desecration to our ancient monuments but the case of a 15 year-old Chinese pupil from Nanjing in eastern China (scene of the Rape of Nanjing by the Japanese in 1927) who scrawled ‘Ding Jinhao was here’ on a 3,500 year-old Egyptian relief in a Luxor temple is yet another indication of how vulnerable and how easily mistreated our cultural heritage can be. Young  Ding Jinhao has subsequently expressed remorse for his act, committed while on holiday in Egypt, and his parents have apologised. Perhaps therefore the fact that the issue has now received such widespread coverage (90,000 hits in the Chinese social media alone) will deter others, of all ages and from all countries, from similar acts.
 
Ding Jinhao’s graffiti on an ancient monument pales into insignificance however when one remembers that in the still unstable regions of the Middle East (including Egypt itself) the illegal excavation and exportation of antiquities has reached epic proportions. It may be worth remembering also that less than fifty years ago, between 1966 and 1976, China’s Cultural Revolution saw countess historical relics and artefacts destroyed and cultural and religious sites, from China in the east to Tibet in the west, ransacked or totally destroyed.
 
Politically motivated destruction of our heritage is perhaps less common now but destruction, nonetheless, continues; motivated increasingly by the greed of national and multinational industries intent on lining the pockets of their shareholders than preserving our common heritage. It is here, on the frontline against the wanton destruction of that heritage, that a stand should and must be taken.