Peru welcomes back Inca artefacts from Yale University

Peruvian President Alan Garcia waves to the press as workers carry a crate of Inca artefacts into a government office in Lima President Garcia welcomed the artefacts back to Peru

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Peru has given a lavish welcome to hundreds of Inca artefacts returned by Yale University in the US, nearly a century after they were taken from the famed citadel of Machu Picchu.

A convoy of trucks escorted by police carried the remains from the airport to the presidential palace in Lima.

Yale agreed to return the artefacts last year after a long campaign by Peru.

President Alan Garcia led the welcoming ceremony.

"They are treasures, even though they are not made of gold or precious stones, because they represent the dignity and pride of Peru," Mr Garcia said before there was a gun salute for the artefacts.

Centenary

The relics will be briefly displayed in Lima before being taken to Cuzco - the historical capital of the Inca empire - where they will housed in a new cultural centre.

The return comes just in time for the centenary of the "discovery" of Machu Picchu by the American explorer Hiram Bingham in 1912.

Peru waged a long diplomatic and legal campaign to recover the artefacts, which it said had only been loaned to Yale.

In all some 45,000 archaeological pieces are to be returned.

The "Lost City" of Machu Picchu in the Andes is Peru's main tourist attraction.

It is the most famous monument of the Inca empire, which ruled until the 15th Century Spanish conquest.

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