MACHU PICCHU, Peru — The Incas built their mysterious city here to be closer to the gods. It was placed so high in the clouds, at 7,700 feet, that the conquering Spaniards never found or destroyed it.
Visitors to Machu Picchu see well-preserved ruins hidden among the majestic Andes: palaces, baths, temples, tombs, sundials and farming terraces, along with llamas that roam among hundreds of gray granite houses.
However, curious tourists won't find many bowls, tools, ritual objects or other artifacts used by the Incas of the late 1400s.To see those, they have to go to New Haven, Conn.
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, with permission from Peruvian President Augusto Leguía.
Today, Peru is threatening to sue the Ivy League school, claiming the permission was either given illegally or misunderstood.
The treasures of Machu Picchu, says David Ugarte, regional director of Peru's National Culture Institute, were given to the American explorer "on loan."