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On June 15, 1915, the renowned Yale historian-turned-explorer Hiram Bingham III returned from a three-week trek along the Salcantay trail to find his Ollantaytambo headquarters occupied by four hostile young Peruvian men. In the name of the Instituto Histórico del Cuzco, they accused him of violating the prefect’s decree prohibiting the excavation of Inca sites in the vicinity. Their suspicions were not unwarranted. Lining the walls of the office were large wooden cases, full of archaeological specimens. They demanded to investigate the contents of the boxes, charging that Bingham was smuggling gold and treasures out of Peru by way of Bolivia. Perturbed, Bingham obliged, and the Peruvians found their accusations to be without basis. Yet tensions would not subside easily. This moment marked the culmination of increasingly antagonistic relations between the Yale explorers and their Peruvian hosts, and no amount of investigation could bridge the deep divide of distrust that had formed over the past four years.

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