University | 11:35 pm | November 12, 2012 | By Julia Zorthian

Yale returns final Machu Picchu artifacts

The Yale flag flies in front of the Casa Concha.
The Yale flag flies in front of the Casa Concha. Photo by Peter Salovey.

Earlier today, Yale quietly returned the third and final batch of thousands of Machu Picchu artifacts to Peru, marking an end to the years-long dispute between Peru and Yale that led to a lawsuit four years ago.

The touchdown of today’s 127-box shipment was the final of three deliveries, which was financed by Yale. The University shipped the first fraction of the artifacts in March 2011 and the second last December. Yale and Peru resolved the lawsuit in November 2010,  when the University agreed to return the pottery shards and other artifacts that Yale archaeologist Hiram Bingham III recovered during trips to Machu Picchu between 1911 and 1916. Tensions grew over the ownership of the artifacts and culminated in December 2008 when Peru sued Yale over the relics.

The dispute lasted years, garnering national media attention and responses from the Yale community.

Though the Peruvian government threatened to sue University President Richard Levin personally in 2008, Peruvian Ambassador to the United States Harold Forsyth presented Levin with the “Orden del Sol,” or the “Great Cross” grade of the Order “The Sun of Peru” last September.

Many of the artifacts are currently on display at the Casa Concho Museum in Cusco, Peru.

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