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.