Peru-Yale Center for the Study of Machu Picchu and Inca Culture opens

Yale officials attended the opening ceremony for the UNSAAC-Yale International Center for the Study of Machu Picchu and Inca Culture in Cusco, Peru. Provost Peter Salovey and Professor Richard Burger of Yale joined Susana Baca, Cultural Minister of Peru; Victor Raul Aguilar, rector of Universidad Nacional de San Antonio Abad del Cusco (UNSAAC); and other officials at the new Center in Casa Concha, a historic Inca palace.

"Yale is very pleased to be UNSAAC's partner in this project, and is delighted by the progress we have made together so far," Salovey said. "We expect Yale faculty and students to travel often to the museum for research projects involving these objects, and we are very impressed by the beauty of Casa Concha and the way the objects will be housed and displayed there."

Aguilar visited Yale in February to sign an agreement with Yale President Richard C. Levin creating the center. Its features include a museum exhibit for the public devoted to the archaeological site of Machu Picchu, with a focus on the investigations there by the Yale-Peruvian Scientific Expeditions of 1911 and 1912 and the subsequent study of the site and its remains by investigators from Yale University and UNSAAC.

All of the museum-quality artifacts from Machu Picchu preserved by Yale since Hiram Bingham's expeditions have been transported to Cusco, as well as some of the fragments. Burger, the Charles J. MacCurdy Professor of Anthropology, and Yale research associate Lucy Salazar have been leading Yale's efforts with UNSAAC to ready the museum's exhibits. The remaining portions of Yale's collection from Machu Picchu, including human and faunal remains and ceramic fragments, will be returned to Peru in two stages in December 2011 and December 2012.

The UNSAAC-Yale Center houses a laboratory and research area to facilitate collaborative investigations of the Machu Picchu collections by researchers from the two institutions and visiting scholars. It also includes a storage facility where the archaeological artifacts (stone tools, ceramics, etc.) and organic specimens (including human osteological remains and animal bones recovered at Machu Picchu) will be conserved in appropriate environmental conditions.

"We envision that the UNSAAC-Yale Center will make an invaluable contribution to archaeological research and teaching," Burger said. "We look forward to a collaboration that will extend the world's knowledge and appreciation of Machu Picchu and Inca history."

Plans for the center include hosting visiting students and faculty from Yale for training, individual research projects, and fieldwork. Yale also will host visiting students and faculty from UNSAAC. It is expected that these exchanges will include fellowships for students and support for visiting faculty members from UNSAAC and Yale.

Last month, in recognition of Yale's agreement with Peru regarding Machu Picchu artifacts, Levin was honored by Peru with its highest civilian award, the Order "The Sun of Peru." Levin noted at the award ceremony that Bingham had sought the advice and assistance of Albert Giesecke, who was rector of UNSAAC at the time.

"Rector Giesecke put Bingham in touch with intellectuals across Cusco, who shared their knowledge of the territory that Bingham was about to explore," Levin said. "Thus, it was, in a very real sense, collaboration between two of the Western Hemisphere's oldest universities-Yale and UNSAAC- that resulted in the breakthrough scientific discovery of Machu Picchu and other undocumented sites. It is therefore entirely fitting that Yale and UNSAAC will be partners once again."