US returns artefacts from Machu Picchu

The first shipment of artefacts from the ruined Inca city of Machu Picchu have been returned to Peru almost 100 years after being taken to Yale University in the US, ending a fractious dispute.

President Alan Garcia – who led a forceful campaign to get back the collection of 46,000 pieces of ceramics, jewellery and bones – received a batch of the relics at the presidential palace in Lima. The artefacts arrived at the palace in lorries decorated with huge images of the Incan ruins and escorted by police vehicles after being flown in from New York.

"This is the true treasure of our past, made by the hands of our ancestors," he said.

The pieces will ultimately be housed in a museum attached to a university in Cusco.

Yale was given the artefacts after an alumnus, US explorer Hiram Bingham III, rediscovered the ancient city in 1911. The original export of objects was in accordance with the rules at the time but later removals were said to be loans and Peru sought the return of all the items. The university in New Haven, Connecticut, had agreed to repatriate the pieces if Peru gave assurances they would be properly cared for in modern museums or storage facilities, but Mr Garcia demanded their unconditional return.

At the height of the dispute last year Mr Garcia sent a letter to President Barack Obama and led a march through the streets of Lima to draw attention to the affair before the 100th anniversary of the city's rediscovery.

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