WASHINGTON (CN) – Peru has sued Yale University for the return of cultural treasures that Hiram Bingham looted from the “Lost City of the Incas” during his Andean expeditions of 1911 to 1916. Peru’s ancient cultural property includes “mummies, skulls, bones, pottery, utensils, ceramics, objects of art.”
Bingham is known in the United States as the “discoverer” of Machu Picchu, the allegedly “Lost City of the Incas.” But Peru says in its federal complaint that the ruins already had been discovered, and the cultural material belonged to Peru under an 1893 Peruvian law, and still belongs to it under a welter of laws passed since then.
Bingham led expeditions to Cuzco, Machu Picchu and environs in 1911, 1912 and 1914-16.
Peru says Bingham was an agent of Yale University, and that the National Geographic Society helped finance his expeditions.
Peru says that Yale, the Bingham family, and the National Geographic Society have its stuff, and if they don’t have some of it, they know who does.
Peru wants it back. It also wants all the research papers and reports in Yale’s possession, or in the possession of the National Geographic Society that describe the stuff Bingham took, plus punitive damages.
Peru is represented by William Cook with DLA Piper.