Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Peru Prepares Lawsuit against Yale University to Get Back Machu Picchu Relics

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Peru Prepares Lawsuit against Yale University to Get Back Machu Picchu Relics

Article excerpt

LIMA, PERU

Peru is preparing a lawsuit against Yale University to retrieve artifacts taken nearly a century ago from the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, says a Peruvian government official.

Peru has held discussions in recent years with Yale seeking the return of nearly 5,000 artifacts, including ceramics and human bones that explorer Hiram Bingham III dug up during three expeditions to Machu Picchu in 1911, 1912 and 1914.

"Yale considers the collection university property, given the amount of time it has been there," says Luis Guillermo Lumbreras, chief of Peru's National Institute of Culture.

"This is something we do not recognize because the pieces were legally granted in a temporary loan," he adds. "That is the reason it will be necessary to air this in the courts and no longer simply on the level of diplomatic conversations."

Peru's Foreign Ministry is preparing the legal case and would likely present it in Connecticut state court, although Lumbreras says it is not clear when the lawsuit would be filed.

According to Lumbreras, former Peruvian President Augusto B. Leguia gave Bingham "permission to temporarily export the objects for scientific ends," with the agreement that the artifacts would be returned after one year. That later was extended by 18 months.

"Theoretically, they should have been returned after Jan. 27, 1916," Lumbreras says. "The fact is, they weren't returned. …

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