2010 Tacky Tourist Awards announced!


This project is dedicated to performing serious research, using the combination of statistics and Egyptological knowledge to uncover previously unrecognized patterns in ancient images.  However, all work and no play…

Since our June 2010 launch, the Art of Counting has shared many photos of tourists behaving badly, captured during research seasons in Egypt.  This ongoing series aims not only to add an astounded chuckle to your day but also serves to remind us how often these monuments are fondled and how damaging a touch can be to these irreplaceable global treasures.  At the end of the year, it seemed fitting to assign awards to the most egregious examples of each type and I was inspired by The Daily Dish’s named award list to come up with my own.

The Lady Gaga Award for 2010 goes to this lady at Deir el Bahri.  Because when you are visiting a conservative country and get a sunburn on the beach, the obvious outfit to wear while sightseeing in the sun is a handkerchief.

The Paris Hilton Award goes to a fashionable young lady, also visiting Deir el Bahri (that poor temple–daily crawling with the ‘Peoples of the Sea’, as Salah and I started to refer to the gaggles of whirlwind tourists from the coast).  Her outfit is dreadful on several levels, but it was the addition of the wedges that sealed her as the Paris Hilton Award winner.

Selecting the Lindsay Lohan Award was difficult–there were just SO many examples of trashy clothing and actions–but the winner truly stands out.  The combination of the outfit (denim micro-mini with the pocket hanging out the bottom? seriously?!?) and casually leaning against an ancient column (at Medinet Habu) while smoking a cigarette really sets this girl apart.

The Tiger Woods Award was also quite difficult to select because I (sadly) had so many options.  In the end, I had to go with ‘The Fondler’ because of his attitude of total entitlement.  This man spent many minutes stroking a beautifully preserved, painted section of relief at Deir el Bahri–I included a shot of the area of relief he was vandalizing so that you can see what he was nonchalantly damaging.  I was photographing nearby and it was a moment before I realized what he was doing.  Once I recognized his actions, I started addressing him, in various languages and an escalating voice since he completely ignored me until I was literally shouting in his ear.  Even then, he just looked at me, shrugged, and wandered off.  Rarely have I wanted so badly to smack someone.

In addition to our four awards, there is a group who definitely needs to be mentioned as some of the Tackiest Tourists I’ve ever encountered.  These are some of the worst of the lot. Period.  I don’t have a specific award for these folks, although they would ALL be at the top of the Tiger Woods Award heap.

Several months ago, one of my colleagues who works at Abydos came across a hideous video on YouTube titled ‘The Abydos Witch Project’.  This creation was the brainchild of several (apparently extremely bored) twentysomethings who decided it would be super funny to recreate Blair Witch in Egypt.  Dumb, but whatever; everyone has their kink.

My problem is that they spent large chunks of the video running through the temples at Dendera and of Seti I at Abydos, seeming to take pains to touch every wall they came across, and then posted it.  Here is one screenshot, taken in the stairway at Dendera.

This essentially announces to anyone who sees this silly video that rubbing one’s hands along ancient relief is a totally fine thing to do.  Thanks a lot, guys.  I started counting the fondling instances, with time stamps (there is a full 10 seconds of random, multi-person, completely extraneous stroking of the reliefs in one of the Seti chapels starting at 0:50, for instance), but there were just too many of them.  The second part of the trilogy is the worst, so I’ve included it below.  If you are someone who cares about our collective history, you might want to have a stiff drink in your hand when you watch this.

Hey, you could even turn it into a drinking game!  Take a swig every time they touch a wall and you’d be snockered by the time the video is up.  It is truly astonishing that anyone would think this was an acceptable thing to do.  If you end up at the third section of this video on YouTube, you might notice a slight flame war comment stream between me and the person who posted this drivel, before I realized it was utterly pointless and stopped bothering.

They definitely earned this prominent spot on our list of Tackiest Tourists of 2010!

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  1. nephewsean01-05-2011

    For the lindsey lohan winner you should put a caption “lookin for love in all the wrong places”

    • Art of Counting01-05-2011

      LOL! That would be extremely appropriate 😉

  2. ThothAmmon01-24-2011

    Um, could you please post some higher-res photos of the Paris Hilton chick with the hotpants from Deir el-Bahari? I’ve seen a lot of hot Russian girls up there, but I’d put her near the top of the list. Any chance you’ve got some video you could upload as well? Good work, in any case… I’ll be looking forward to future entries. Thanks for such a great and entertaining website!

    • Art of Counting01-24-2011

      *chuckles* pretty sure I’ve already posted all I have of her. My focus was on recording the monuments, not the tourists, so I didn’t take many high res images of them. She was obviously very proud of her flesh! Glad you are enjoying the site 😉

  3. hui07-10-2016

    so pity that I didn’t see this earlier. I went to Egypt on March this year and saw some tourists did bad things. Fortunately, our guide would stop them immediately.

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.