According to a story posted on AdventureJourney.net, a website dedicated to adventure travel, the country of Peru is suing Yale University, for the return of a number of artifacts taken from the country nearly a century ago when legendary explorer Hiram Bingham discovered Machu Picchu in 1911.
At that time, Bingham’s discovery captured the imagination of the world, as photos of the Lost City of the Incas gave an eager audience a glimpse of another time and place. But Bingham didn’t just send photographs back to civilization. He also reportedly brought back more than 40,000 artifacts from the site, most of which made their way back to Yale, where they still reside today.
Now, Peru would like these relics returned, and has entered into litigation to get them back. Thousands of visitors flock to the country each year, in no small part thanks to its rich history, and these artifacts are a direct link to that history and a valuable commodity for the tourist economy there. The items also happen to belong to the Peruvian people, and are symbols of their culture and ancient Inca traditions, which still play a role in modern Peru today.
This isn’t just an issue for Peru either. Other countries, most notably Egypt, have worked hard to recover treasures that were taken from them by imperialist powers in centuries past. Fortunately, many nations are now returning these artifacts to their rightful owners. It remains to be seen if Yale will follow suit.