Yale alumni demand return of Peru’s artifacts


By Mario Sandoval

Machu Picchu will celebrate its discovery’s 100th anniversary next year. (Photo: El Comercio)

Peruvian Minister of Culture Juan Ossio announced today that a group of Yale alumni in Peru is backing the efforts of Peruvian government to retrieve the artifacts held by Yale, reports Andina news agency.

"A group of Yale alumni are very annoyed with this problem and are circulating a letter in support of the Peruvian government,” Ossio said to Andina.

In the letter, signed by 23 of Peru’s 43 Yale alumni and sent to Yale President Richard Levin, they “expressed their opinion that it is time to end the dispute between Yale and Peru regarding the return to Peru of archeological artifacts removed from Machu Picchu by Hiram Bingham since the citadel’s discovery in 1911,” reported Yale Daily News in its website last Friday.

One century ago, Bingham brought human remains, household items and other artifacts he found in Machu Picchu back to Yale. Both Bingham and Yale agreed to and acknowledged the obligation to return the material removed. Yale scholars have conducted valuable research on these artifacts that has added to the world’s appreciation and knowledge of Machu Picchu. Some 300 pieces in good condition are presently on display at Yale’s Peabody Museum in New Haven.

Peru initiated legal action in 2008 in the U.S. state of Connecticut, home of Yale University, seeking the return of the materials, but Yale has refused to do so and apparently seeks to justify its permanent retention of these materials by claiming that Peru failed to take timely legal action against Yale, says the Yale Daily News report.

Last month, Peruvian President Alan Garcia urged Yale University to return the relics before the 100th anniversary of American explorer Hiram Bingham’s rediscovery of the world heritage site on July 7, 2011.