Yale to return all Machu Picchu pieces, says Foreign Affairs minister

March 9, 2011 7:30 amComments OffViews: 15

Foreign Affairs minister Jose Antonio Garcia Belaunde rejected claims by Congressman Yonhy Lescano that Peru will receive from Yale University only 20 percent of the thousands of archaeological pieces removed from Machu Picchu between 1912-16.

Lescano has said he came across documents from the National Institute of Culture (INC) and a foreign affairs ministry commission showing that only a portion of the artifacts will be returned.

Garcia Belaunde denied the charge and said he was unaware of any other documents, besides the November 2010 agreement between Yale and Peru to return all artifacts.

Peru expects to receive some 300 museum-quality artifacts by the end of this month. In total, there are 46,632 fragments and artifacts that Hiram Bingham, an American historian sponsored by Yale and the National Geographic Society, removed from Machu Picchu almost a century ago.

Culture minister Juan Ossio also said he was unaware of the documents cited by Lescano and called on the lawmaker to provide the files in order to verify his charges.

“If there is some other documentation where it could be argued that all the pieces won’t arrive, then I think that Congressman Lescano should provide the documentation,” Ossio said. “I would be the first to be interested in seeing it.”

The artifacts are to be housed at the Inca palace of Casa Concha, owned by San Antonio Abad del Cuzco National University (UNSAAC), where Yale University will also collaborate to make the International Center for Machu Picchu, which will include a museum and research facilities. However, among the thousands of pieces in the collection, only between 329 and 363 of the ceramic, stone and metal artifacts are considered to be of museum quality, while the remainder is made up to a great extent by bone fragments and potsherds.

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