Machu Picchu and Yale University
About 5,000 artifacts taken from the ancient Incan city of Machu Picchu in Peru nearly a century ago.
Yale historian Hiram Bingham rediscovered Machu Picchu in 1911, and backed by the National Geographic Society, he returned with large expeditions in 1912 and 1915. Each time, he carted out crates filled with archaeological finds. Yale University is embroiled in an escalating dispute with Peru over the return of treasures from the world-famous Incan site of Machu Picchu that are on display as part of the ivy-league university's permanent collection.
Yale To Return Incan Artifacts
Agreement With Government Of Peru includes materials excavated by History Professor In 1912.
THE GOVERNMENT OF PERU and Yale University in New Haven have settled a dispute over the return of artifacts taken from Peru in 1912.
September 16, 2007. Source Courant.com by Edmund H. Mahony, Courant Staff Writer
Yale University has agreed to return to the government of Peru some of the artifacts and human remains that one of its professors removed from the ancient Incan city of Machu Picchu nearly 100 years ago.
The agreement, disclosed in a joint statement by Yale and Peru late Friday night, appears to settle a long-standing dispute between the two. Peru had threatened to sue Yale to recover 300 museum-quality pieces - including skeletons, ceramic pots and jewelry - but the threat was withdrawn over the summer as negotiations progressed over return of the items.
The statement did not specify precisely what will be returned to Peru, but it suggests Yale will give up a substantial portion of the collection, which has been housed in a campus museum. Representatives of Yale and the government of Peru could not be reached Saturday.
The statement said that the government of Peru and Yale had agreed on "a new conceptual framework for collaboration, with a focus on Machu Picchu." The agreement reportedly will encompass not only the materials excavated by Yale history Professor Hiram Bingham in 1912, but other areas of research, such as the plants and wildlife in a national park surrounding the ancient Andean city.
Peru and Yale said they have agreed to jointly sponsor a traveling international exhibition that will feature objects obtained by Bingham during expeditions to Machu Picchu and the Peruvian city of Cuzco, as well as dioramas and multimedia materials developed by the school. Peru will contribute pieces to the traveling exhibition, according to the statement.
In addition, Peru said it will build a new museum and research center in Cuzco. Yale will advise Peru on the center, which will become the home of the traveling exhibition when completed, probably in late 2009.
The statement said that Yale will acknowledge Peru's title to all the excavated objects including the fragments, bones and specimens from Machu Picchu. But it said Yale will share rights with Peru in what was described in the statement as the research collection, part of which will remain at Yale as an object of continuing study.
Once Peru's new museum and research center opens, the statement said, museum quality objects in Yale's possession will return to Peru along with a portion of the research collection.
"This understanding represents a new model of international cooperation providing for the collaborative stewardship of cultural and natural treasures," the statement said.
Machu Picchu was built by Incan emperor Pachacutec in the mid-15th century, at the height of the empire. The stone citadel sits 8,000 feet above sea level and overlooks a forest 345 miles southeast of Lima.
The Incas ruled Peru from the 1430s until the arrival of the Spaniards in 1532, constructing incredible stone-block cities and roads and developing a highly organized society that extended from modern-day Colombia to Chile.
Spanish conquistadors are believed to have found an abandoned Machu Picchu during their conquest of the Incan empire in the middle 1500s. Bingham is believed to have rediscovered it in 1911. The reconstructed ruins at Machu Picchu are now Peru's top tourist attraction.
The find by Bingham, a colorful adventurer who bushwhacked paths across Central and South America, brought the mysteries of the apparently lost Incan civilization to the attention of the Western world. Bingham promised to return to Peru any artifacts he took back to New Haven for study, but not everything made its way back.
Peru began to press for the return of its artifacts - part of its patrimony - in 2001. But in 2005, after unsuccessful negotiations, the administration of then-Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo threatened to sue. Current President Alan Garcia took office before a suit was filed and continued the talks that resulted in the agreement.
For years, Bingham's collection languished in storage at Yale's Peabody Museum of Natural History. It was rediscovered by the husband-and-wife anthropology team of Richard Burger and Lucy Salazar, who put it in a traveling exhibit called "Machu Picchu: Unveiling the Mystery of the Incas." The exhibition returned permanently to New Haven in 2005, just as the school's dispute with Peru was coming to a head.