Matthew Bogdanos

Members of the U.S. Army’s 812th Military Police company found the Bassetki Statue in a cesspool in Baghdad in November 2003. The thieves who stole it from the Iraq Museum had covered it in grease and planned to smuggle it out of the country at a later time. The legs on the pure-copper statue base, which is all that had survived from antiquity, are of a male and surround a socket for a standard or doorpost. The 330-pound base is inscribed with the name of King Naram-sin of Akkad and dates to about 2300 B.C. It was discovered in the 1960s during the construction of a road near Bassetki, just a few miles south of the Turkish border.

In the accompanying article, Marine Colonel Matthew Bogdanos, who commanded the team, describes what was stolen from the museum and what has been recovered. He also details the painstaking efforts his team made to gain the trust of locals and enlist them in the recovery of objects.