Peruvian government honors Levin with its highest award

The Government of Peru honored President Richard C. Levin for his significant contributions to the historic agreement between Peru and Yale regarding the Machu Picchu artifacts excavated by Hiram Bingham a century ago.

Harold Forsyth, ambassador of Peru to the United States, awarded Levin the Order “The Sun of Peru” in the Grade of “Great Cross” for his distinguished service to Peru. The presentation of the award, which is the highest honor bestowed by Peru, took place at the Embassy of Peru residence in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 15.

Forsyth cited the “good will” and “cooperation” between Yale and Peru in reaching the agreement, which he called “a remarkable example of how to solve a controversy.”

Peru and Yale reached their landmark Memorandum of Understanding on the future of the artifacts in November 2010.

“I am pleased to accept this extraordinary tribute from the Government of Peru,” Levin said. “Yale has now embarked on a long-term collaboration with the Universidad Nacional de San Antonio Abad del Cusco (UNSAAC) to ensure the expanded accessibility of the Machu Picchu collections for research and public appreciation. We salute the Government of Peru for its steadfast efforts to preserve and extend the world’s knowledge and awareness of Machu Picchu and its history.”

Levin said the historic agreement for which he was honored could not have been possible without the efforts of many people, including former president of Mexico Ernesto Zedillo, the director of Yale’s Center for the Study of Globalization, who served as a special envoy in negotiating the agreement, and Yale Vice President and General Counsel Dorothy Robinson, who, he said, devoted countless hours to the effort to reach an agreement with Peru.

Robinson attended the ceremony, along with Richard Burger, the Charles J. MacCurdy Professor of Anthropology, and Yale research associate Lucy Salazar. Levin said Burger and Salazar have dedicated their lives to the preservation and study of the artifacts that Bingham excavated from Machu Picchu, and are widely recognized for their many contributions to the world’s understanding of Andean culture.

Following the Memorandum of Understanding between Yale and Peru, Yale and UNSAAC signed an agreement last February establishing the UNSAAC-Yale International Center for the Study of Machu Picchu and Inca Culture in Cusco.

The center, situated in the Casa Concha in the heart of Cusco, will feature:

  • 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.
  • A storage facility where the archeological artifacts and other materials recovered at Machu Picchu by Bingham’s 1912 expedition will be stored and conserved in appropriate environmental conditions.
  • A laboratory and research area to facilitate collaborative investigations of the collections by the two institutions and visiting scholars.

The center is scheduled to open Oct. 6.

The first artifacts returned to Peru included all of the museum-quality pieces, which were sent to Peru last March, in time for the centennial of Hiram Bingham’s arrival in Machu Picchu. The remaining materials will be returned to Peru in two stages, in December 2011 and December 2012.

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