Yale to return Peruvian artifacts

UPDATED SUNDAY 11:59 p.m. Yale and Peru are formalizing an agreement to return Inca artifacts found by Hiram Bingham III 1898 to Peru, according to a statement released Sunday night by the Yale Office of Public Affairs and Communications.

The relics will all ultimately be returned to Peru, University President Richard Levin said in a Saturday interview. They will be returned over the next two years, with those most suitable for museum display being returned in time for the centenary of Bingham’s scientific discovery of Machu Picchu in July 2011, the statement said.

The artifacts will be housed at the University of Cusco, where research will continue on the collection, the statement said. Once an agreement with the University of Cusco is finalized, the statement said, Yale will work jointly with the University of Cusco to establish a museum and research center for the artifacts.

“This collaboration will ensure that Yale’s values in conserving the collection, studying the material and disseminating new knowledge will be extended in a new phase, and in a spirit of friendship with the people of Cusco and the nation of Peru,” the statement said.

Reached after the Harvard-Yale football game Saturday afternoon, Levin said he was “quite pleased” that Yale and Peru had been able to reach the “framework” of an agreement regarding the artifacts.

A delegation from Yale consisting of former President of Mexico Ernesto Zedillo, Director of the Peabody Museum Derek Briggs and professor of anthropology Richard Burger arrived yesterday in Peru to negotiate with Peruvian President Alan Garcia, Levin said. In the past, Yale representatives have never dealt with such high-ranking members of the Peruvian government, Levin said.

Peru sued Yale in December 2008 for the artifacts’ return. Levin declined to comment on how the new agreement will affect the status of the lawsuit.

In a press release Saturday afternoon, Sen. Chris Dodd, who expressed his support for the artifacts’ return to Peru in June 2010, said he applauds Yale’s decision.

“These artifacts do not belong to any government, to any institution, or to any university — they belong to the people of Peru,” Dodd said.

The artifacts are currently at the Peabody Museum in New Haven.

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