Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay has said that the cost for the head of an 11,000-year-old statue, which was stolen from Göbeklitepe in the eastern province of Şanlıurfa, has been paid by the head of the excavation, German archaeologist Klaus Schmidt.

Günay said his ministry is tracking the missing head in Turkey and abroad, adding, “Those responsible for the archaeological site have paid the appraised value of the work, because the head of the excavation is responsible for providing security at the excavation area.”

Ministry officials said it was impossible for the money paid for the priceless ancient statue to equal its value, but Schmidt paid the value it was insured for, which was 150,000 Turkish Liras.

Günay said: “At the Göbeklitepe excavations, the protection of the excavation area as well as the facilities and materials there are the responsibility of the head of the excavation. Along with security officers, the area is also protected by a closed-circuit camera system. Göbeklitepe is well-known as one of the world’s oldest temples and has a very significant place in the history of humanity and in archaeology. The site is also a nominee for the UNESCO World Heritage List,” in response to a written question about the issue from Republican People’s Party Deputy Mahmut Tanal.