LIMA, Peru - Yale University has agreed to return thousands of Inca artifacts taken from Peru's famed Machu Picchu citadel almost a century ago, the government said Saturday.
September 16, 2007. Source Yahoo News
Bronze knife pendant.
Image courtesy of Yale Peabody Museum
"Finally it has been established that Peru is the owner of each one of the pieces," Housing Minister Hernan Garrido Lecca, who led negotiations with Yale, told Lima's Radioprogramas radio.
The New Haven, Connecticut-based university said in a statement on its Web site that some of the pieces will remain there temporarily for research, but did not specify how many.
Peru demanded the collection back last year, saying it never relinquished ownership when Yale scholar Hiram Bingham III rediscovered Machu Picchu in 1911. All told he exported more than 4,000 artifacts including mummies, ceramics and bones from what has become one of the world's most famous archaeological sites.
Yale responded with a proposal to split the collection. Negotiations broke down, and Peru threatened a lawsuit.
Under the agreement, Yale and Peru will co-sponsor first a traveling expedition featuring Bingham's pieces and later a museum in the Andean city of Cuzco, the ancient Inca capital.
"This understanding represents a new model of international cooperation providing for the collaborative stewardship of cultural and natural treasures," Yale said in the statement.
The ruins at Machu Picchu, located on a mountaintop above a lush valley southeast of Lima, are Peru's top tourist attraction.
Yale University, the third-oldest U.S. college, agreed to return to the government of Peru some of the artifacts archeologist and Professor Hiram Bingham excavated from Machu Picchu almost a century ago.
September 15, 2007. Source Bloomberg.com by Kelly Riddell and Brian K. Sullivan
Silver shawl pin.
Image courtesy of Yale Peabody Museum
Last year, Peru threatened to sue Yale for the 300 museum- quality pieces, consisting of skeletons, ceramic pots and jewelry, dug up from the Incan city in the Andes between 1911 and 1916. Peru said Bingham excavated the land knowing the items he took were on temporary loan and ``would be returned.''
Under a collaboration announced today, Peru and Yale will co-sponsor an exhibition featuring Bingham's artifacts that will travel internationally. A new museum will also be built in Peru where the artifacts will reside after their world tour.
``This understanding represents a new model of international cooperation providing for the collaborative stewardship of cultural and national treasures,'' Yale and Peru said in a joint statement on the Ivy League university's Web site.
Yale had displayed the antiquities at its Peabody Museum in New Haven, Connecticut. It had previously offered to set up parallel collections at Yale and at a museum to be built in Peru, a proposal the government rejected last year.
Peru's museum is scheduled to open in 2009 and coincide with the centennial celebration of Bingham's rediscovery of Machu Picchu. Select artifacts will remain at Yale for further research, the two groups said.
Machu Picchu was built by Incan emperor Pachacutec in the mid-15th century, at the height of the empire. The stone citadel, which lies at an altitude of 8,000 feet (2,438 meters), overlooks a forest 345 miles (552.2 kilometers) southeast of Lima.
Spanish soldiers are said to have discovered the abandoned site shortly after the conquest of the Inca Empire in 1532. The site lay forgotten and covered by jungle vegetation for the next four centuries until Bingham rediscovered it in 1911.
The question of ownership over artifacts brought back to U.S. campuses has been a thorny one.
Recently, Harvard reached an agreement with Russia to return bells taken from that country in 1930.
To contact the reporters on this story: Kelly Riddell in Washington at Kriddell1@bloomberg.net ; Brian K. Sullivan in Boston at firstname.lastname@example.org