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Inca Artifacts | Archaeological Dig Sites | Pre-Columbian Artifacts

Inca artifacts "borrowed" by Yale University and displayed in its Peabody Museum became the center of a controversy in 2010 that was brought to the public's attention by various news reporters.

Peru claimed that these artifacts, many from sites such as Machu Picchu and other Inca diggings, belonged to that country and should be returned.

A lawsuit was filed.

Then in 2011, Yale University buckled under to Peru's logical claim and began returning the artifacts in March of 2011.

The story behind this mini-drama began around the beginning of the past century.


    Pre-Columbian: From civilizations existing prior to Columbus and the Spanish Conquerors
  1. Pre-Columbian artifacts have long been coveted by people both in the private and public sectors of  archaeology (archeology).

  2. As a result, illegal and semi-legal forms of looting have taken place in different archaeological dig sites, with those of the ancient Inca Civilization of Peru, South America, among the many victims.

  3. A huge number of archaeological artifacts from Peru's famous Machu Picchu ended up in Yale University's Peabody Museum without proof that they had been obtained in a legitimate fashion.

Inca Artifacts from Peru's Archaeological Dig Sites

In 1911, Hiram Bingham, a Yale University alumni (on whom of the movie character Indiana Jones was later based) rediscovered the Inca stronghold of Machu Picchu.

Hiram Bingham, a playboy archaeologist, made this extremely-significant discovery in the rain forest mountains of southern Peru. Then began what has been termed a "loan" or possible "looting" of Inca artifacts by Yale University's Peabody Museum.

Inca Artifacts
Inca Artifacts

Although Peru's President Alan Garcia admitted that the artifacts taken from the Machu Picchu archaeological site were probably in good hands during the past 100 years, he also called for their immediate return and filed a lawsuit when an agreement was not reached.

Pre-Columbian Artifacts

In the collection acquired by the Peabody Museum as a result of Hiram Bingham's archaeological discoveries, there are more than 40,000 items from the Machu Picchu site, including many hundreds of high-quality museum pieces.

In December 2010, after much controversy, an agreement was finally reached between Peru and Yale University whereby Yale would return all of the artifacts to the government of Peru.

The agreement also called for a team of archaeologists and museum experts from Yale to travel to Peru to ensure that the Inca artifacts were to be stored in a suitable place until a permanent museum could be constructed in Cusco, the capital of the ancient Inca Empire and closest city to Machu Picchu.

From Yale's Peabody Museum to Cusco, Peru

An historically-important house in Cusco, Peru, was been renovated and became the temporary resting place for these thousands of Inca artifacts. This manor house, dating from the period of Spanish colonization of Peru, was deemed suitable for the storage of the archaeological artefacts until a permanent museum could be built in Cusco.

The decision by Yale to return the Inca artifacts came after much initial resistance.

Apparently, the administrators of Peabody Museum were convinced that the Inca artefacts had been freely given or at least loaned for an indefinite period of time.

A lot of pressure was put on Yale with Peru's President Garcia writing a personal letter to US President Obama requesting his support of the return of the Machu Picchu Inca artifacts.

Yale students joined in the clamor, giving their support to Peru's claim. Finally the University caved in to the pressure.

The many archaeological artifacts began to arrive in Lima, Peru's capital, in March of 2011 and were put on temporary display there in time for the centennial anniversary of the rediscovery of Machu Picchu in 1911.

Growing Concern - Archaeology News

There has been growing concern over the illegal exploitation of hundreds of Pre-Columbian artifacts from the archaeological dig sites in Peru, including mummies and artifacts from sites such Chan Chan, Kuelap, Sipan, and many others.

A lot has changed in the 100 years since Hiram Bingham first set eyes on the magnificent ruins of Machu Picchu hidden among the verdant jungle plants.

There have been numerous other archaeological discoveries in various areas of Peru. Not only has Yale's Peabody Museum acquired artifacts from Peru, either on loan or permanently, but organizations in every part of the world wake up when there is news of further archaeology news originating from this hotbed of ancient cultures.

Certainly, it is worth your while to take a trip and see these famous sites.

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