Peru's government formally asked U.S. President Barack Obama on November 2 to assist Peruvian efforts to get Yale University to return thousands of artefacts taken from the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu.

In a letter to President Obama, President Alan Garcia said it was “just and necessary” for Mr. Obama to intervene on Peru's behalf, so that the South American nation can recover its cultural heritage.

The Peruvian government and Yale are at odds over possession of the artefacts, including funeral shrouds, bones, textiles and ceramics.

Peru demands their return, while Yale hopes to negotiate a settlement over the artefacts, which were removed about a century ago. “President and great friend, almost 100 years have passed since then and despite the many requests made on different occasions by successive Peruvian governments, Yale University has not returned to the Peruvian Government the property of Machu Picchu,” Mr. Garcia wrote to Mr. Obama. His letter was delivered by hand by Foreign Minister Jose Antonio Garcia Belaunde to the U.S. Ambassador in Peru, Rose Likins.

Peru has had a lawsuit pending in U.S. District Court in Connecticut since 2008 demanding Yale return all artefacts taken by scholar Hiram Bingham III between 1911 and 1915. Yale says that it returned dozens of boxes of artefacts in 1921 and that Peru knew it would retain some.

The school describes the artefacts, housed at its Peabody Library, as “primarily fragments of ceramic, metal and bone” and says it recreated some objects from fragments.

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