Yale Will Return Machu Picchu Artifacts

November 22, 2010

Alan Garcia, president of Peru, announced on Friday that Yale University has committed to return a collection of artifacts from Machu Picchu in early 2011 -- possibly ending years of negotiations and legal threats over the pieces, which were taken by a Yale team that excavated the area a century ago. Peru has long disputed Yale's assertions that the artifacts were taken legally. While some of Peru's past statements about Yale have criticized the university, Friday's announcement contained some praise. "The Peruvian government welcomes this decision and recognizes that Yale University preserved these artifacts, which otherwise would have ended up scattered in private collections around the world or would have even disappeared. We also acknowledge the studies that have been made along all these years," the statement said.

Yale issued a statement Sunday night in which it confirmed the agreement. "Yale University is pleased and proud to have reached an accord with the Government of Peru which is now in the stage of being formalized. Under it, as an expression of good will and in recognition of the unique importance that Machu Picchu has come to play in the identity of the modern Peruvian nation, Yale will return, over the next two years, the archaeological materials excavated by Hiram Bingham III at Machu Picchu nearly a century ago. Those pieces suitable for museum display will be sent in time for the centennial celebration commemorating the scientific discovery of Machu Picchu by the Yale-Peruvian Scientific Expedition of 1911."

The statement continued: "Yale is particularly pleased that President Alan Garcia has requested the University of Cusco to receive and be the depository of the objects, and in that way it will serve as the new academic home and context for the collection. Yale looks forward to concluding an agreement with the University of Cusco to establish the collaborative arrangements for a new museum and research center that will carry out programs of research, educational exchanges, and public exhibitions. This collaboration will ensure that Yale's values in conserving the collection, studying the material and disseminating new knowledge will be extended in a new phase, and in a spirit of friendship with the people of Cusco and the nation of Peru."

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