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Centuries-old Inca artefacts taken from Machu Picchu a century ago have started arriving in Peru. Peru's Culture Ministry says the first 366 archaeological artefacts have arrived in Cuzco, a jumping-off point for tourists visiting the Inca ruins. They include pieces of ceramic, bronze, copper and a skeleton.
After a bitter dispute that dragged on for years – and prompted a lawsuit – Yale University agreed earlier this year to return the artefacts. They had been taken from the site by Hiram Bingham, the man who rediscovered the citadel for the outside world. Peru had been demanding their return for years. They will be displayed in a colonial-era building in Cuzco. Thousands of other artefacts are being returned later.
It started back in 1911, when Yale explorer Hiram Bingham III set up his base camp in Ollantaytambo, a town high in Peru's Andes mountains. From there, he set out to explore the ancient stone ruins of Machu Picchu. Bingham introduced the site to the world through his articles for National Geographic magazine. He returned twice and excavated thousands of artifacts: ceramics, tools, jewelry and human bones — all with the consent of the Peruvian government.
"In 1912, when Bingham came back, Peru offered Bingham a resolution under which the artifacts could leave to be studied by Yale," Heaney explains. "It was a recognition of Yale's scientific commitment. But the artifacts would leave on just one condition: that they could be sent back whenever Peru asked."
They will be displayed in a colonial-era building in Cuzco. Thousands of other artefacts are being returned later.