01 Dec 2005

Peru Preparing to Sue Yale

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Yale University has become the latest victim of a world-wide trend, fueled by resentment and leftist ideology, in which backward countries seek to regain possession of archaeological treasures removed long ago by scientists from wealthier and more advanced nations. Just as the Slavic and Turkic-descended inhabitants of modern-day Greece, seeking the return of the Parthenon’s Elgin Marbles from the British Museum, have no more real personal connection to the Greek civilization which actually produced the art than did the British Lord Elgin, who saved them from destruction; the Spanish-descended litigants from Peru have no more connection to the previous inhabitants of their country who produced the artifacts in the first place than did their discoverer, the American Hiram Bingham.

CNN reports:

LIMA, Peru (AP) — Peru is preparing a lawsuit against Yale University to retrieve artifacts taken nearly a century ago from the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, a Peruvian cultural official said Wednesday.

Peru in recent years has held discussions with Yale seeking the return of nearly 5,000 artifacts, including ceramics and human bones that explorer Hiram Bingham dug up during three expeditions to Machu Picchu in 1911, 1912 and 1914

“Yale considers the collection university property, given the amount of time it has been there,” said Luis Guillermo Lumbreras, chief of Peru’s National Institute of Culture, in an interview with The Associated Press.

Lumbreras said former President Augusto B. Leguia gave Bingham “permission to temporarily export the objects for scientific ends,” with the agreement that the artifacts would be returned after one year, and that the time frame later was extended by 18 months.

“Theoretically, they should have been returned after January 27, 1916,” Lumbreras said. “The fact is, they weren’t returned.”

For decades, Peru did not pursue the matter, he said.

“It stayed that way for nearly 100 years,” Lumbreras said. “The 100th anniversary of the scientific anniversary of Machu Picchu is coming. We believe it is time to return the collection.”

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Dr. Bob

It is suggested that a necessary condition for group ownership of cultural artifacts is that a group have a “real personal connection” to such artifacts. JDZ asserts that the current inhabitants of the contemporary nation of Greece (not to mention the Brits) have no such relation to the “Elgin” marbles, and therefore neither owns them. Can I have them?



JDZ

Sorry, you do have to find ’em first, a la Bingham; or buy ’em from the local authorities, a la Elgin. But if you do, I think it’s perfectly cricket to take them home and put them on display in a museum in your own country.



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