Erich Lessing / Art Resource, New York

The Warka Vase, a 3.5-foot-tall alabaster vessel dating to 3200 B.C., shows, in the top relief, the goddess Inanna (or her priestess) receiving an offering. It is the oldest known carved ritual vessel. The vase was returned after two weeks of negotiation conducted by Bogdanos’s team; 95 other artifacts were also returned, all in the trunk of a car. The team discussed money with the middleman sent by the thieves, but in the end the thieves returned the vase for nothing more than an invitation to see the museum.