- Elginism - http://www.elginism.com -

Yale agrees to return Machu Picchu artefacts to Peru

After resorting to numerous ways to increase pressure on Yale University [1], it now looks as though Peru’s attempts to secure the return of artefacts may have been successful. It is worth bearing in mind though that agreements such as this can fall though for man reasons. Previously Yale agreed to return the same artefacts in 2007 [2], but this never went ahead and the reasons given tend to vary depending on which side you speak to.

Bloomberg News [3]

Yale to Return Incan Artifacts Taken a Century Ago, Peru’s President Says
By John Quigley – Nov 20, 2010 5:15 PM GMT

Yale University, the third-oldest U.S. college, has agreed to return Incan artifacts taken from Peru a century ago, President Alan Garcia said.

Ernesto Zedillo, a Yale professor and a former Mexican president, promised yesterday to return the artifacts, which were excavated by archaeologist and Yale Professor Hiram Bingham from the Machu Picchu citadel in the southern Andes in 1912, Garcia said in statement dated yesterday and posted on the presidential website.

“The Peruvian government welcomes this decision and recognizes that Yale University preserved the pieces that otherwise would have been scattered around the world in private collections or might have disappeared,” Garcia said.

Tom Conroy, a spokesman for New Haven, Connecticut-based Yale, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Peru will insist the items, which include bronze knives, silver jewelry and fragmented pottery, are returned starting in the first quarter, Garcia said. They will be kept at San Antonio Abad University in the southern Andean city of in Cuzco, where Yale researchers will be able to keep studying them, he said.

The government began seeking the pieces in the early 2000s. Yale said in 2008 it was seeking “an amicable resolution that would ensure the continued conservation and scholarly study of the historic collection.”

Earlier this month, Garcia said the Peruvian government may sue to force the Ivy League school to return the artifacts.

Machu Picchu was built by Inca emperor Pachacutec in the mid-15th century, at the height of the empire. The stone citadel, which lies at an altitude of almost 8,000 feet (2,438 meters), overlooks a forest 345 miles (552.2 kilometers) southeast of Lima.

Machu Picchu is Peru’s top tourist attraction, receiving about 850,000 visitors per year. It will be the site of centennial celebrations next year to commemorate the lost city’s rediscovery by Bingham in 1911.

To contact the reporter on this story: John Quigley in Lima at jquigley8@bloomberg.net To contact the editor responsible for this story: Joshua Goodman at jgoodman19@bloomberg.net

Independent [4]

Yale set to return 4,000 Inca treasures to Peru
By Stephen Foley in New York
Monday, 22 November 2010

As Peru counts down to the 100th anniversary of the discovery of Machu Picchu by the American explorer Hiram Bingham, thousands of artefacts taken from the breathtaking lost city of the Incas could soon be returned to the country.

The relics, some 40,000 of them, according to the Peruvian government, include pottery, jewellery and human bones. They have been in the collection at Bingham’s alma mater, Yale University, since he first hacked his way through the Andean jungle to the site in 1911, and have become the subject of a bitter international dispute and a ferocious academic debate about how and where to display archaeological treasures. Alan Garcia, Peru’s President, announced that the artefacts would begin to be returned to the country next year, following an agreement with Yale during talks last week.

The university said that important details were still being worked out that could derail a final deal, but welcomed “positive developments”. It said: “It has always been Yale’s desire to reach an agreement that honours Peru’s rich history and cultural heritage and recognises the world’s interest in ongoing public and scholarly access to that heritage.”

The university has “a duty to academic and cultural institutions everywhere to recognise their important contributions to the study and understanding of all the world’s cultures”, it has said throughout the dispute.

Peru says the artefacts were only ever loaned to Yale, and that an earlier deal to repatriate the objects fell apart two years ago. That plan had included funds for a travelling exhibition of the objects, and a study centre in the Peruvian city of Cuzco.

Yale says it returned scores ofboxes of artefacts in 1921, and that Peru knew that the university would keep other pieces.

A lawsuit is working its way through the American courts, and earlier this month Mr Garcia appealed for the intervention of US President Barack Obama so that a resolution could be found ahead of the 100th anniversary of Bingham’s excavations.

Barely a month ago, Peru was threatening to launch criminal proceedings against Yale and its president. After last week’s meeting, Mr Garcia opted for magnanimity, recognising the university’s role in preserving the artefacts for the best part of a century.

In a statement announcing the outline agreement, he said: “The Peruvian government is grateful for this decision, and recognises that Yale University conserved these parts and pieces that otherwise would have been dispersed in private collections throughout the world, and perhaps would have disappeared.”

Machu Picchu had been abandoned for centuries before Bingham’s discovery. The ferocious Incas had spread across South America from what is now Peru, using warfare and diplomacy to build an empire that stretched from Colombia to Argentina, but they were no match for the firepower – and the imported diseases – of Spanish invaders who arrived in 1532.

The US Senator Chris Dodd, who as a member of the chamber’s foreign relations committee has been working to encourage an agreement between Yale and Peru, welcomed the weekend’s progress. “I applaud Yale’s decision to return the Machu Picchu artefacts to their rightful owners,” he said. “These artifacts do not belong to any government, to any institution, or to any university – they belong to the people of Peru. Now future generations of Peruvians and visitors to that country will have access to this rich history.”