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As Yale agrees to return artifacts of Machu Picchu to Peru, graduate student is interviewed by NPR

Third-year graduate student Christopher Heaney was interviewed by National Public Radio (NPR) regarding Yale University’s scheduled return of the artifacts from Machu Picchu.

Posted: January 18, 2011
Christopher Heaney

Christopher Heaney

Machu Picchu, the Inca ruins that are located in the Andes mountains of Peru, were re-discovered in 1911 when a local indigenous boy led Yale historian and explorer Hiram Bingham into their midst. Bingham's expedition, funded by the National Geographic Society excavated thousands of archaeological pieces — metal jewelry, ceramics and even human bones — from the site in 1912 and then exported them to New Haven.

NPR’s Diane Orson from WNPR in New Haven, Conn., reported on the story and interviewed Heaney for the All Things Considered show which aired on Dec. 15, 2010. Heaney wrote a book on Bingham’s life that was published last spring, Cradle of Gold: The Story of Hiram Bingham, A Real-Life Indiana Jones, and the Search for Machu Picchu (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010).

Heaney’s Fulbright-funded research in Peru and personal visits to the site as a Yale undergraduate gave him a unique insight into what was actually agreed on by Bingham and the government of Peru: the artifacts traveled to the United States on the condition that Peru could call for their return.

A lawsuit filed in 2008 by the Peruvian government along with a very public and international media campaign to recover the artifacts resulted in Yale finally agreeing to return the collection this year. Their return comes as the world celebrates the hundredth anniversary of the site's revelation via Bingham's articles published in the National Geographic magazine. Looking forward, Peru and Yale have committed to further cooperative archaeological research and study of the artifacts — but in Cusco, the former capital of the Incas, as Peruvians had long intended.

Listen to the NPR interview...
Christopher Heaney's UT profile page

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