Sunday, June 18, 2006

Disputed collection holds keys to Machu Picchu's secrets
Even after decades of study, Yale University's collection of relics from Machu Picchu continues to reveal new details about life in the Incan city in the clouds.

The bones tell stories about the health of the Incan people. The metal tools hint at the society's technological advancement. The artifacts help scientists reconstruct ancient trade routes.

Archaeologists say they've even learned that the Incan diet revolved not around the Peruvian staple of potatoes, but was based largely on maize. All this from restudying a collection that's nearly a century old.

The government of Peru wants it back, saying it never relinquished ownership when Yale scholar Hiram Bingham III rediscovered the city in 1911 and began exporting artifacts from what has become one of the world's most famous archaeological sites.

This looked to be a story on the analysis of previousy collected material but is mostly about repatriation issues. But, you know, analyzing older collections is still a Good Thing to do.