Thousands of archaeological pieces taken from Machu Picchu (photo) nearly a century ago will be returned by Yale University, Peru’s president has said.
For more than seven years, a bitter dispute went on because of those relics from the 15th Century Inca citadel.
According to Peru, the artefacts were loaned in 1911 but never returned. In 2008 the country filed a lawsuit against the university.
The agreement comes after a concerted media campaign by Peruvian President Alan Garcia and his government.
In Lima and Cuzco, ministers and the president himself staged marches.
Peruvian president even appealed directly to his US counterpart Barack Obama, to intervene.
19 artefacts found in the tomb of King Tutankhamun were returned to Egypt from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York earlier this month.
Peru says that in 1911, after Machu Picchu’s official discovery by a Yale scholar, Hiram Bingham, it loaned the university around 46,000 items which included mummies, ceramics and gold and bronze pieces.
But according to Yale the number of pieces is far smaller and only 330 are suitable for display in a museum. The university also said that boxes of artefacts were returned more than 80 years ago.
Despite all that, talks between Peru and Yale seem to have gone well. The university pledged to honour Peru’s rich heritage by returning all the pieces in its possession, as long as it can continue to study them.
For his part, president Garcia acknowledged that Yale’s possession of the objects kept them all together instead of being scattered among private collectors.
The artefacts should be returned early next year in time for the centenary of what Peru calls the re-discovery of Machu Picchu, the country’s top tourist attraction and most important archaeological site.