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article imageMachu Picchu archaeological treasures returning from Yale Special

By Igor I. Solar     Mar 24, 2011 in World
Lima - The first batch of archaeological pieces taken from the iconic pre-Columbian site known as Machu Picchu, and held “on loan” at Yale University, will return to Peru later this month after a century-long controversy about ownership.
About 4,000 archaeological pieces including ceramic, stones, silver statues and human bones were taken in 1916 from the ancient Inca citadel by American historian Hiram Bingham (1875 - 1956). The valuable material was supposedly on loan for a period of 18 months to the University of Yale for the purpose of study and publication of the results of historical and anthropological research. A few items were returned to Peru; however most were maintained for display at the Anthropology Division of Yale's Peabody Museum of Natural History, New Haven, CT.
Yale kept the material for about a century claiming ownership to most of the museum-quality pieces arguing that Peru did not have the infrastructure to take care of the pieces, while acknowledging at the same time lacking themselves the space for proper storage and exhibition of the valuable material at the new building of the Peabody Museum: “Many of our most distinguished collections including Hiram Bingham’s Machu Picchu artifacts will have to remain elsewhere in inferior conditions due to the lack of space in the new building.” In 2006, after Peru threatened to sue the university, Yale offered to collaborate and allow exhibition of the material in both countries. Peruvian authorities refused any deal that did not recognize Peru’s ownership of the prized artifacts.
In 2007, through a memorandum of understanding, Yale acknowledged Peruvian ownership of the relics, agreed to return most of the artifacts, but keeping a portion of the pieces for further study. It was also agreed that the return process will proceed in three stages. The first instalment, consisting of 363 pieces and some full skeletons will arrive in Peru between 29 and 31 March. In December this year will return the second batch, while the third is scheduled for 2012.
The agreement contemplates the opening of a new museum in the Andean city of Cuzco. Yale will also act as an adviser to the new Museum which opening is planned to coincide with the centennial celebration of Bingham's rediscovery of Machu Picchu in July 1911.
"We believe we have achieved a fair deal, which retrieves the pieces that were out on loan and we have taken 100 years to recover. This leaves no room for doubt that what went out on loan is being returned. If something does not come back, it will be investigated and resolved," said Peruvian Foreign Affairs Minister José Antonio García Belaunde in an interview with Andina Peruvian News Agency (in Spanish).
One of the highest points in Machu Picchu was used as a guard post to defend the citadel against ene...
One of the highest points in Machu Picchu was used as a guard post to defend the citadel against enemies.
It is believed that Machu Picchu was built during the 15th Century as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacútec (1438–1472) who used it for habitation, as a sacred site and as an astronomical observatory. It is located about 80 kilometres northwest of the ancient city of Cuzco, at 2430 metres above sea level on a very steep, thickly forested mountaintop above the Urubamba Valley in the Peruvian Andes.
The place was abandoned by the Inca rulers around the time of the arrival of the Spanish Conquistadores who took over Cuzco around 1533. The remote citadel was never found by the Spanish invaders.
View of the mountains and down towards the Urubamba Valley from Machu Picchu.
View of the mountains and down towards the Urubamba Valley from Machu Picchu.
View from Machu Picchu down the Urubamba River Valley.
View from Machu Picchu down the Urubamba River Valley.
The name of the place comes from the Quechua language and means “Old Peak”. Although it was hidden by thick jungle for hundreds of years the ruins were known to few of the local people. It was brought to international attention in 1911 by Hiram Bingham who at the time was in Peru searching for Vilcabamba (Quechua for “Sacred Plain” also known as “Espiritu Pampa”), the last capital and final refuge of the Inca Empire at the time of the Spanish conquest. Bingham did find Vilcabamba, but preferred to believe that the ruins found at Machu Picchu were those of the old Inca city he was searching for. When Bingham died in 1956, after serving 9 years as a Republican US senator for Connecticut, he was still convinced that the ruins he saw at Machu Picchu corresponded to the old Inca town of Vilcabamba.
View of  The Three Windows  construction atop several terraces  seen from the main square of the Mac...
View of "The Three Windows" construction atop several terraces, seen from the main square of the Machu Picchu Inca citadel.
In 1983, Machu Picchu was declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO and has become one of the top tourist attractions in South America. In 2007, Machu Picchu was named as one of New Seven Wonders of the World chosen by more than 100 million people voting on locations that best represent global heritage throughout history. The other sites chosen were The Colosseum in Rome, Italy, the Statue of Christ the Redeemer in Brazil, Petra in Jordan, Chichen Itza in Mexico, the Taj Mahal in India, and The Great Wall of China.
The train trip from Cuzco to Aguas Calientes  below the mountain where Machu Picchu is located  goes...
The train trip from Cuzco to Aguas Calientes, below the mountain where Machu Picchu is located, goes through beautiful Andean mountains scenery, tunnels and rivers.
Local people selling colourful handicrafts at the arrival of the Machu Picchu train from Cuzco.
Local people selling colourful handicrafts at the arrival of the Machu Picchu train from Cuzco.
I visited the“Old Lost City of The Incas” in Peru travelling by train from Cuzco to Machu Picchu, a 3.5-hour journey each way, and this article includes some pictures showing views of this amazing and enigmatic place.
One of the best views of Machu Picchu overlooking the main square and the Huayna Picchu mountain in ...
One of the best views of Machu Picchu overlooking the main square and the Huayna Picchu mountain in the background of the site.
More about Machu picchu, Cuzco, Anthropology, Archaelogy, Inca ruins
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