Yale set to return 4,000 Inca treasures to Peru

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."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Phase Co-ordinator for Foundation and Key Stage 1

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Phase Co-ordinator for Foundation and Key S...

Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher We have a fantastic special n...

Tradewind Recruitment: History Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an 11-18 all ability co-educat...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee