Yale and the leader of the Peruvian National University of San Antonio Abad in Cusco will sign an agreement today outlining the future of Inca artifacts whose 100-year stay at Yale is quickly coming to a close.
Rector Victor Aguilar will join University President Richard Levin at 11:30 a.m. in Woodbridge Hall to sign an agreement about housing the artifacts at a new collaborative center at the Peruvian university. Vice President and General Counsel Dorothy Robinson said in an e-mail that the University is “very pleased” about the agreement and about the facility the Cusco University is building, which will provide a central location for research, exhibition and scholarly exchange related to the artifacts.
“We’re looking forward to this very significant culmination of a lengthy process of arriving at what I think is an outstanding solution for the Machu Picchu collections,” Levin said in an interview Thursday night.
Yale archaeologist Hiram Bingham III 1898 discovered the artifacts in multiple expeditions to Peru beginning in 1911 — the year in which he is credited with the scientific discovery of the ancient city of Machu Picchu. Peru has fought for control of the artifacts for the past several decades, even suing Yale for the artifacts’ return in December 2008.
But Yale administrators say they are glad that the controversy over the artifacts is finally drawing to a close.
“With this agreement in place, we have the ideal resolution of the question of the future of the collection, consistent with Yale’s global vision and with the special importance of Machu Picchu and these archaeological materials to Peru,” Robinson said.
The signing follows a Nov. 23 agreement with the Peruvian government that initiated the collaboration between Yale and the Peruvian university, and designated the university in Cusco as the artifacts’ repository in Peru. Robinson said that the two accords complement each other, with the most recent document serving as a follow-up to the original one.
The agreement establishes the framework for the “UNSAAC-Yale University International Center for the Study of Machu Picchu and Inca Culture,” which will be located on the National University of San Antonio Abad’s campus and run jointly with Yale, Robinson said.
Yale archaeology research associate Lucy Salazar said the center’s primary purpose will be keeping the artifacts intact, as they have been protected at Yale for the past century. She and her husband, archaeology professor Richard Burger ’72, have worked with the artifacts since Burger’s appointment to the Yale faculty in 1981. Burger said he is now looking forward to the future collaboration with the National University.
“We really needed a partner in all of this … and Cusco was the logical partner, and [Rector Aguilar] was the ideal person,” Burger told the News in January.
Founded in 1692, the Peruvian National University of San Antonio Abad in Cusco is nine years older than Yale.
Sarah Nutman contributed reporting.