Head of King Sargon II

Screenshot 2024-01-09 at 9.27.43 PM.jpg

Object or Group Name

Head of King Sargon II

Case Summary

In March 2015, the United States returned more than 60 artifacts to Iraq, including this head of Assyrian King Sargon II dated to 713 BCE.

The return of the sculpture came about due to a criminal investigation started in 2008 into the Dubai-based antiquities trafficker Hassan Fazeli. According to court records, Fazeli exported the sculpture to the United States on July 30, 2008, declaring the country of origin as Türkiye, and the value of the sculpture at USD $6,500.

The head was seized in August of that year when it entered the United States, with authorities stating that its true value was closer to USD $1,200,000 and its country of origin was Iraq. In 2013, the Southern District of New York filed a civil forfeiture complaint, alleging illegal importation based upon the false declarations pertaining to the country of origin and value.

Investigators found records show that Fazeli had told the unnamed purchaser that the object had in fact been found in Iraq. Fazeli said he often used Turkey as the country of origin for such objects as he had "Turkish papers" he could use to falsify the country of origin. Authorities identified at least two other cases where Fazeli had used Turkey as the country of origin for objects from Egypt.

Fazeli played a central role in the illegal importation of dozens of other looted antiquities from the Middle East, records show, including the Met Museum's Gold Coffin of Nedjemankh.

Number of Objects


Object Type


Private Collector


Receiving Country


MOLA Contributor(s)

Jason Felch

Peer Reviewed By



“Head of King Sargon II,” Museum of Looted Antiquities, accessed July 13, 2024, https://mola.omeka.net/items/show/1274.