Fairfield University presents author of "Thieves of Baghdad" for lecture and book signing

Fairfield University presents author of "Thieves of Baghdad" for lecture and book signing

Image: Matthew Bogdanos In the wake of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the world watched in dismay as thieves took advantage of the chaos to loot the priceless treasures housed in the Iraq Museum. More than 15,000 items were stolen, including the Sacred Vase of Warka, the world's oldest known carved stone ritual vessel; the Mask of Warka, sometimes called 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 B.C.

Marine Colonel Matthew Bogdanos led the U.S. task force to investigate the pillaging. Bogdanos will share his story on Thursday, April 6, at 7 p.m. in the Oak Room of the Barone Campus Center at Fairfield University. His presentation, which is sponsored by University College and the Art History Department of the College of Arts & Sciences at Fairfield University, will be followed by a signing of his book "Thieves of Baghdad: One Marine's Passion for Ancient Civilizations and the Journey to Recover the World's Greatest Stolen Treasures" (Bloomsbury USA, 2005). Written with William Patrick, the book tells the riveting story of how Bogdanos applied his skills as a Marine, an investigator, and a passionate student of classical history to rescue the antiquities and investigate the thefts.

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 losing his apartment near the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, he joined a multi-agency task force in Afghanistan, was promoted to Colonel, and received a Bronze Star for his actions in obtaining intelligence on 11 of the "Top 25" Taliban and al-Qaeda leaders in the War on Terrorism. Appointed Deputy Director, he led that interagency task force into Iraq in March 2003 to search for evidence of terrorist cells, UN Security Council Resolution violations, and terrorist financing.

In April 2003, he began the investigation into the looting of Baghdad's Iraq Museum, resulting in the recovery of more than 5000 antiquities in six countries. Returning to Iraq for the transition to sovereignty in June 2004; he was then assigned to the National Defense University to develop the U.S. government's first executive-branch-wide, operational-level interagency training program. In March 2005, he resumed his counter-terrorism duties, deploying to Djibouti and Qatar. Released back into the Reserves in October 2005, he returned to the New York County District Attorney's Office and continues the hunt for stolen antiquities.

Working closely with Iraqis and using a complex methodology that includes community outreach, international cooperation, raids, seizures, and amnesty, the task force and others around the world have recovered more than 5,000 of the missing treasures. Bogdanos also concludes that there had been not one but three thefts at the museum by three distinct groups: professionals who stole several dozen of the most prized treasures, random looters who stole more than 3,000 excavation-site pieces, and insiders who stole almost 11,000 cylinder seals and pieces of jewelry.

Matthew Bogdanos's royalties for "Thieves of Baghdad" will be donated to the Iraq Museum. George W. Bush awarded Bogdanos the National Humanities Medal in 2005.

General admission to the lecture is $8; free to Fairfield University students, faculty and staff with a valid ID. For tickets, please call 203-254-4307. The photo of Matthew Bogdanos available for download at www.staff.fairfield.edu/mediarelations/bogdanos.jpg is by Ozier Muhamm.

University College at Fairfield University is the gateway for individuals seeking undergraduate and graduate degrees as well as professional certificate programs, study abroad and personal enrichment opportunities. With an emphasis on quality,convenience and flexibility, University College offers a wide variety of evening, day, online and weekend programs taught by a distinguished faculty. University College offers an enriching personal and powerful educational experience that is backed by the resources and reputation of a great Jesuit university. For program information e-mail gradadmis@mail.fairfield.edu or visit www.fairfield.edu or call (203) 254-4184.

Posted On: 03-03-2006 10:03 AM

Volume: 38 Number: 182