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Machu Picchu rediscovered 100 years ago

July 24, 2011 - PERU

The official centenary celebration of the rediscovery of Machu Picchu on 24 Jul 1911 will swell the number of visitors to the spectacular ancient citadel in the Peruvian Andes. The date swings the spotlight again to the thousands of artifacts taken by the man who made the Lost City of the Incas known to the world 100 years ago, Yale University Professor Hiram Bingham. Yale returned the artifacts to Peru in June.

The official centenary celebration of the rediscovery of Machu Picchu on 24 Jul 1911 will swell the number of visitors to the spectacular ancient citadel in the Peruvian Andes. The date swings the spotlight again to the thousands of artifacts taken by the man who made the Lost City of the Incas known to the world 100 years ago, Yale University Professor Hiram Bingham. Yalereturned the artifacts to Peru in June. The architectural treasure had been hidden under the lush vegetation of the Urubamba canyon for over four centuries when Bingham found it. Encyclopedia Britannica describes the citadel as an ancient fortress in south-central Peru "perched near Cuzco in a narrow saddle between two sharp peaks, at an elevation of 7,710 ft . . . One of the few pre-Columbian urban centres found nearly intact, it is about 5 sq miles in area and includes a temple and a citadel. The period of occupancy is uncertain." Machu Picchu is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Peru's National Chamber of Tourism (Canatur) says it has started work on the celebrations. Canatur president Carlos Canales told the Peruvian news agency Andina in August that the organization is campaigning for the return of the artifacts. Yale agreed to return them in 2008, according to National Geographic News, but legal wrangling has held up Peru's recovery of the household items, art objects and human remains taken from the site. Canales said Peru's Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism and its Export and Tourism Promotion Board will also be involved in the plans for the upcoming centennial. The head of Machu Picchu archeological park, Fernando Astete Victoria said recently that preliminary data shows Machu Picchu is on course to host 150,000 domestic and foreign tourists through the Inca trail in 2010.

Yale Agrees to Return Machu Picchu Artifacts (National Geographic News 20 Sep 2007)

Machu Picchu centennial likely to lack Yale artifacts (Yale Daily News 13 May 2010)

Date written/update: 2011-07-24