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Peru Seeks Return of Machu Picchu Artifacts

In 1911, Yale history professor Hiram Bingham III and a small group of guides stumbled upon a lost city of the Incas: the fortress of Machu Picchu, high in Peru's Andes Mountains.

For centuries, the treasures found there had been lost to the Peruvian people. Once found, they disappeared again, going off to Yale's Peabody Museum. Now Peru wants the Incan relics returned.

During three trips to Machu Picchu, Bingham excavated hundreds of objects, including silver statues, jewelry, musical instruments and human bones. The relics are part of a multimedia exhibition at Yale's Peabody Museum in New Haven, Conn.

Two of Bingham's trips were co-funded by Yale University and the National Geographic Society. When Yale launched a major touring exhibition featuring the artifacts three years ago, the Peruvian government started negotiations to get them back.

Yale offered to divide the items up and help Peru install its share in a museum near the site. Peruvian officials would not agree to any joint projects until Yale acknowledged that all of the objects belong to the Peruvian people. Yale refused.

Peruvian officials say the dispute is between their government and Yale University, and does not involve the U.S. government. They have not announced when Peru will file suit.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Diane Orson is CT Public Radio's Deputy News Director and Southern Connecticut Bureau Chief. For years, hers was the first voice many Connecticut residents heard each day as the local host of Morning Edition. She is a longtime reporter and contributor to National Public Radio. Her stories have been heard on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition and Here And Now. She is the co-recipient of a Peabody Award. Her work has been recognized by the Connecticut Society for Professional Journalists and the Associated Press, including the Ellen Abrams Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism and the Walt Dibble Award for Overall Excellence.