With the 100th anniversary of Hiram Bingham’s discovery of the Inca archeological treasure Machu Picchu approaching, Peru’s Chamber of Tourism is preparing to celebrate — but without many of the site’s most precious artifacts, which remain in Yale’s collection.
Though Peruvian officials originally hoped the artifacts would be returned in time for the July 2011 commemoration, the prolonged legal battle with Yale, which has been dragging on since 2008, will likely make that impossible. Instead, the Chamber of Tourism plans to use the event to raise awareness about the absent artifacts and to pressure Yale to return them.
“With this effort, we seek to build the archeological museum of Cusco,” Carlos Canales, president of the Chamber of Tourism, told the Peruvian news agency Andina. “We will focus in social networks to recover these objects and make Yale graduates aware of our request and support it,” he said.
Bingham, who graduated from Yale in 1898, brought a variety of household and art items and human remains back to New Haven from Peru in the early 1900s after the Peruvian government agreed to loan them to the Peabody Museum. Peru sued for the return of the artifacts in 2008; Yale moved that the charges be dropped because the statute of limitations had passed. In March, Peru dropped six of the 17 charges against Yale, many of which accused the University of fraud.
Vice President and General Counsel Dorothy Robinson said in March that the dropped charges were “unfounded” but added that she thought the remaining 11 charges were equally misguided.
Canales said Peru’s Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism and its Export and Tourism Promotion Board will also be involved in the plans for the upcoming centennial.