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Tacky Tourist: The Problem

Our ongoing series of tourists doing or wearing, shall we say…interesting things.  Some will make you wail like my 2 year-old, some will give you a giggle, and some will make you want to post a guard next to every decorated wall with a taser ready.  This one shows what I think is clearly part of the problem–tour guides who include wall fondling as part of their process.  Once a tourist (or worse, a large group of tourists) sees their guide run their hands along a wall (or tap on relief with a pointer, as I’ve seen done in some Nubian temples), it indicates to them that there is no harm is such an act and they tend to happily replicate it.  Who hasn’t felt that desire to have such a tactile experience?  It is the duty of the guides to educate people about the damage that such things cause, but some of them obviously do not feel that is part of their job.  In this shot, note that one of the tourists is casually leaning on the (extremely delicate) wall like he is hanging out at the mall.  I was truly dismayed several years ago in the Cairo museum to encounter a group of student preparing for their final test to become tour guides.  They were in the New Kingdom sculpture gallery and several were using the seated statue of Thutmosis IV and his mother as a surface for their note-taking.  Even worse, when I said something to them about it, they acted like I was an idiot.  No wonder so many tourists feel that picking pieces of relief off a wall is just part of their tour.

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The Art of Counting is dedicated to the memory of Margery Meilleur, who first taught me to view history through the eyes of the images we create.