Sunday, June 24, 2007

Entitled simply The Possessed, this article by Arthur Lubow on the New York Times website looks at the dispute over the fate of finds from Macchu Pichu (Peru), and the role of politics in the emotive world of heritage and cultural identity. This is a HUGE article - 10 pages of it, and is accompanied by a short but super slideshow of photographs from Hiram Bingham's excavations. If you are asked for a username and password you can enter egyptnews into both fields. Here's a tiny extract:

If you have visited Machu Picchu, you will probably find Bingham’s excavated artifacts at the Yale Peabody Museum in New Haven to be a bit of a letdown. Mostly, the pieces are bones, in varying stages of decomposition, or pots, many of them in fragments. Unsurpassed as stonemasons, engineers and architects, the Incas thought more prosaically when it came to ceramics. Leaving aside unfair comparisons to the jaw-dropping Machu Picchu site itself, the pottery of the Inca, even when intact, lacks the drama and artistry of the ceramics of earlier civilizations of Peru like the Moche and Nazca. Everyone agrees that the Machu Picchu artifacts at Yale are modest in appearance. That has not prevented, however, a bare-knuckled disagreement from developing over their rightful ownership. Peru says the Bingham objects were sent to Yale on loan and their return is long overdue. Yale demurs.

Related articles referred to on the page are:
The Other Machu Picchu (June 3, 2007)
IN TRANSIT; A Bridge to Machu Picchu Runs Into Problems (March 11, 2007)
Taking the Back Roads to Machu Picchu (November 12, 2006)
Inca Show Pits Yale Against Peru (February 1, 2006)