Yale University in the US returned hundreds of Inca artefacts which received a copious welcome in Peru. These objects were taken from the famed citadel of Machu Picchu (photo, from bbcimg.co.uk) a century ago.
On Wednesday the artefacts were carried in a convoy of trucks escorted by police from the airport to the presidential palace in the country’s capital Lima.
Last November Yale agreed to return the artefacts, after a long campaign by Peru.
The welcoming ceremony was led by president Alan Garcia, who said : “They are treasures, even though they are not made of gold or precious stones, because they represent the dignity and pride of Peru.”
Then there was a gun salute for the artefacts which will be briefly displayed in Lima.
Some 45,000 archaeological pieces are to be returned to Peru.
The ‘Lost City’
After that they will be taken to Cuzco to be exposed in a new cultural centre. This city is the historical capital of the Inca empire which ruled until the Spanish conquest in the 15th Century.
The artefacts were returned to Peru just in time for the centenary of the “discovery” of Machu Picchu in 1911 by Hiram Bingham, the American explorer.
Peru waged a long diplomatic and legal campaign to recover the artefacts, which it said had only been loaned to Yale in 1911. In 2008 the country filed a lawsuit against the university.
In Lima and Cuzco, ministers and the president himself staged marches. Peruvian president even appealed directly to his US counterpart Barack Obama, to intervene.
Located in the Andes, the “Lost City” of Machu Picchu is Peru’s main tourist attraction.