Yale Agrees to Return Machu Picchu Artifacts to Peru: Ethics-Based Repatriation Efforts Gain Steam

Posted on December 28, 2010

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The year is 1908.  You are an academic from Yale, traveling deep in the wilds of South America.  A native farmer offers to show you something spectacular, pointing to a mountain that you had no plans to climb.  You are skeptical, but have an adventurer’s spirit, and can’t resist his offer.  You set out first thing the following morning — up, up, up the mountain.

You find yourself quickly winded at the near 8,000 foot elevation.  You press on, in your funny turn-of-the-century pants, struggling to keep up with your Andean guide.  When you reach the top — behold! — Machu Picchu.  The ruins are covered in vegetation, having been abandoned and unused for centuries, but are nonetheless magnificent.

And so began one of Hiram Bingham’s many adventures.  This one, however, resulted in a dispute between Peru and Yale that is only now showing signs of ending.  If you want to know more, read my article, “Yale Agrees to Return Machu Picchu Artifacts to Peru: Ethics-Based Repatriation Efforts Gain Steam,” in the newest edition of the Cultural Heritage and Arts Review, published by the American Society of International Law.  My article begins on page 3, but the whole publication is worth a read, if you’re into mummies and the like.

To see older posts from the CPAL Blog on the Yale-Peru dispute, click here.

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