Matthew Bogdanos

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. That task was not easy, as illustrated in the photo above. In 1999, during the dictatorial rule of Saddam Hussein, ten businessmen from Mosul had cut off the head of an Assyrian human-headed bull from the palace of Sargon II (late eighth century B.C.) at Khorsabad and attempted to smuggle it out of the country. The thieves were caught at the Jordanian border and all were, ironically, beheaded (the stone head was placed on the floor of the museum, likely as a warning). Bogdanos and his team had to convince Iraqis that the return of objects would not be met with brutal punishment.