Yale University will grant the Peruvian government title to all of the artifacts excavated from Machu Picchu currently housed in the University’s Peabody Museum, the University and the government of Peru announced Friday night.
As part of the agreement, all of the “museum-quality” artifacts and some of the research collection will return to Peru, to be housed in a $5 million museum and research center set to open in 2009. A portion of the materials will remain at Yale for ongoing research, and the University will continue to study the artifacts with Peruvian archaeologists, said Peruvian Housing Minister Hernan Garrido-Lecca, who led the Peruvian delegation to New Haven.
The agreement to the long-standing dispute was reached after 14 hours of negotiations at Yale on Friday, Garrido-Lecca said. The delegation met Friday with University officials including President Richard Levin, General Counsel Dorothy Robinson, and Peabody Museum Director Michael Donoghue.
Yale and Peru are planning an exhibition of the Machu Picchu artifacts that will travel internationally before returning to Cuzco, Peru, for the new museum’s opening in 2009.
University and Peruvian officials said they hope the agreement will set an example for how similar disputes might be handled in the future.
“This understanding represents a new model of international cooperation providing for the collaborative stewardship of cultural and natural treasures,” Yale and Peru said in a joint statement released Friday night.
Garrido-Lecca said he is pleased that Yale and Peru will continue to work together — both at the University and in Peru — to research the 15th-century culture of Machu Picchu.
“It’s in our own interest to have such fine institutions as Yale University and the Peabody Museum and many others, hopefully, interested in carrying out research on our objects,” Garrido-Lecca said at a meeting with Yale students Saturday morning. “It would be foolish on our part not to take advantage of this interest.”
Garrido-Lecca said that during talks yesterday he showed artifact curator and Yale professor Richard Burger a catalog of 10,000 Inca artifacts currently held in Peru. Garrido-Lecca offered to send these artifacts — including bones, ceramics, metal pieces and textiles — to Yale for study at the University.
“You should have seen Richard Burger’s face when I gave him 10,000 pieces,” Garrido-Lecca said. “It was like a kid looking at a toy.”
Yale scholar Hiram Bingham III is credited with rediscovering the lost civilization of Machu Picchu. He traveled to conduct excavations at the site three times between 1911 and 1915, and he sent many of the artifacts back to Yale for study.
Garrido-Lecca said the official agreement between Yale and Peru will be signed within 60 days.