Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Why my great-great-great grandfather defaced ancient Egyptian monuments

The Guardian (Philippa McDonnell)

With photo.

My ancestor, Earl Belmore, travelled throughout Egypt in the early 1800s - and developed a taste for signing his name on antiquities

I have been worried by the behaviour of my great-great-great-grandfather. I had always known that the 2nd Earl of Belmore went to Egypt and "rescued" – as they termed it then – some famous antiquities. What I didn't know was that before sending them to museums, he defaced them.

Go to the Metropolitan Museum in New York and you'll see the name BELMORE inscribed in 3in-high Roman capitals on the side of the Temple of Dendar. As graffiti goes, it is beautifully carved. But then, so is the temple.

Apparently he had mounting debts when, in 1813, he decided to flee the bailiffs by touring Egypt. He bought an 86ft schooner and spent £9,600 transforming it. He took his family and assorted others along, including the Countess Juliana, Rosa the lapdog, the family doctor and the vicar.

I went to Egypt this spring to see whether there was any legacy.First stop, the Great Pyramid. And, dear oh dear, there at the summit, BELMORE. Thankfully he appears to have made no attempt to ship the Great Pyramid back to Britain.

See the above page for the full story.

1 comment:

Joan Lansberry said...

That Dendur temple has quite a bit of graffiti, I captured some in photos: