Thieves of Baghdad

U.S. Marine Colonel Matthew Bogdanos Visits the Penn Museum to Tell the Story Behind Theft, Looting, and Recovery of Iraq Museum Artifacts
Wednesday, March 31 at 6:00 pm
Program Followed by Book Signing

MatthewBogdanosMARCH 2010—U.S. Marine Colonel and New York Assistant District Attorney Matthew Bogdanos returns to the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (after speaking to a sold-out crowd in 2006) on Wednesday, March 31, at 6:00 pm. In his talk, "Thieves of Baghdad," he details the investigation into the 2003 theft and looting of the Iraq Museum. Colonel Bogdanos offers an update on the protection of Iraq's cultural heritage as well as news of artifact recoveries.

A book signing of Thieves of Baghdad: One Marine's Passion to Recover the World's Greatest Stolen Treasures, (Bloomsbury USA; $16.95 paperback), written by Colonel Bogdanos with William Patrick, follows his presentation. The book will be on sale in the Museum Shop before and after the program, and all royalties from sales go to the Iraq Museum. Admission to the program, co-sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Ancient Studies, is pay-what-you-want (free for Penn Museum members). Reservations are recommended: (215) 898-4890.

In April 2003, people around the world were in shock at the pillaging of the Iraq Museum in Baghdad. The list of missing objects read like a "who's who of archaeology:" the Sacred Vase of Warka, the world's oldest known carved stone ritual vessel; the Mask of Warka, the "Mona Lisa of Mesopotamia;" and the treasure of Nimrud, a collection of more than 1,000 pieces of gold jewelry from the eighth and ninth centuries BCE.

In the wake of the looting, the United States dispatched a highly specialized multi-agency task force, led by Colonel Bogdanos, to determine what had happened at the museum and to recover as many antiquities as possible.

Through more than 100 photographs, Colonel Bogdanos explores the theft and looting at the Iraq Museum. He recounts the story of the U.S. government's multi-agency task force, the first ever deployed to a war zone (in the frozen hills of Afghanistan), and that team's recovery of more than 6,000 priceless antiquities from eight countries since then.

The investigation also exposed the presence of an international black-market antiquities trade, and Colonel Bogdanos addresses the future of national and international efforts to stop the smugglers.

Matthew Bogdanos has been an Assistant District Attorney in Manhattan since 1988. A colonel in the Marine Reserves, middleweight boxer, and native New Yorker, he holds a degree in Classics from Bucknell University, a law degree and a master's degree in Classical Studies from Columbia University, and a master's degree in Strategic Studies from the Army War College. Recalled to active duty after September 11, 2001, he received a Bronze Star for counterterrorist operations in Afghanistan, and then served multiple tours in Iraq. Returned from Afghanistan in December 2009, he continues the hunt for stolen antiquities.

The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology is dedicated to the study and understanding of human history and diversity. Founded in 1887, the Museum has sent more than 400 archaeological and anthropological expeditions to all the inhabited continents of the world. With an active exhibition schedule and educational programming for children and adults, the Museum offers the public an opportunity to share in the ongoing discovery of humankind's collective heritage.

Penn Museum is located at 3260 South Street (on Penn's campus, across from Franklin Field), Philadelphia, PA 19104. Museum hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 am to 4:30 pm, Sunday 1 to 5 pm, closed Mondays and holidays. Admission donation is $10 adults; $7 senior citizens (65 and above); $6 children (6 to 17) and full-time students with ID; free to Members, Penncard holders, and children five and younger. Penn Museum can be found on the web at For general information call (215) 898-4000.



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(215) 898-4000


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