Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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60th session - Decisions

Mainovac cemetery and Bedra area as a presumed archaeological site in Vionica, the historical site

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Status of monument -> National monument

             Pursuant to Article V para. 4 Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Article 39 para. 1 of the Rules of Procedure of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments, at a session held from 7 to 13 October 2003 the Commission adopted a






            The historical site of the  Mainovac cemetery and Bedra area as a presumed archaeological site in Vionica, Čitluk Municipality, is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument).

            The National Monument is located on a site comprising cadastral plots nos: for Bedra: 350/1 - 350/8, 351, 352; for Mainovac:  354-356, cadastral municipality Šurmanci, Čitluk Municipality, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

            The provisions relating to protective measures set forth by the Law on the Implementation of the Decisions of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments, established pursuant to Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Official Gazette of the Federation of  BiH nos. 2/02 and 27/02) shall apply to the National Monument.




            The Government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the Government of the Federation) shall be responsible for ensuring and providing the legal, scientific, technical, administrative and financial measures necessary to protect, conserve, and display the National Monument.

            The Commission to Preserve National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the Commission) shall determine the technical requirements and secure the funds for preparing and setting up signboards with the basic data on the monument and the Decision to proclaim the property a National Monument.




            To ensure the on-going protection of the National Monument, the following measures are hereby stipulated:

            Protection Zone I comprises the area:

            c.p. 354-356 – site of the Mainovac burial ground

            c.p. 350/1 - 350/8; 351, 352 (the Bedra site) and c.p. 2493 (the Bedra-Mainovac road).

            In this Zone all works on the monuments comprising the architectural ensemble are prohibited other than conservation and restoration works and those designed to display the monument, with the approval of the Federal Ministry responsible for regional planning and under the expert supervision of the heritage protection authority of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the heritage protection authority).

            No archaeological finds that may be discovered during agricultural works shall be removed from the soil.  In such cases the heritage protection authority shall immediately be notified (for the Bedra site). In the Mainovac burial ground old graves shall not be moved or removed in order to make way for new ones.

            In Bedra, which is a presumed archaeological site, no new buildings may be erected without first conducting archaeological investigations and without the agreement of the heritage protection authority.

            Protection Zone II consists of the plots south of Bedra on c.p.  347-348,349, 349/1. In this zone no construction shall be permitted until possible archaeological sites have been investigated. 

            No archaeological finds that may be discovered during agricultural works shall be removed from the soil.  In such cases the heritage protection authority shall immediately be notified.

            For the site around the Mainovac burial ground, Protection Zone II consists of plots 353, 357, 358/1,2.

            No construction, felling of timber and in particular of oak trees alongside the burial ground, or works that could have the effect of altering the landscape are permitted, and the erection of temporary or permanent structures not intended solely for the protection and display of the National Monument is also prohibited.




            Potential archaeological finds from this site should be deposited in the relevant museum and entered in the inventory books. 

            The removal of archaeological finds from the areas stipulated in Clause 1 para. 1 from Bosnia and Herzegovina is prohibited.

            By way of exception to the provisions of paragraph 2 of this Clause, the temporary removal from Bosnia and Herzegovina of archaeological finds for the purposes of display or conservation shall be permitted if it is established that conservation works cannot be carried out in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

            Permission for their temporary removal from Bosnia and Herzegovina under the conditions stipulated in the preceding paragraph shall be issued by the Commission to Preserve National Monuments, if it is determined beyond doubt that it will not jeopardize the archaeological finds in any way.  In granting permission for the temporary removal of the collection, the Commission shall stipulate all the conditions under which the removal may take place, the date by which the collection shall be returned to Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the responsibility of individual authorities and institutions for ensuring that these conditions are met, and shall notify the Government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the relevant security service, the customs authority of  Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the general public accordingly.




            All executive and area development planning acts not in accordance with the provisions of this Decision are hereby revoked.




            Everyone, and in particular the competent authorities of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Canton, and urban and municipal authorities, shall refrain from any action that might damage the National Monument specified in Clause I of this Decision or jeopardize the preservation and rehabilitation thereof.




            The Government of the Federation, the Federal Ministry responsible for regional planning, the Federation heritage protection authority, and the Municipal Authorities in charge of urban planning and land registry affairs, shall be notified of this Decision in order to carry out the measures stipulated in Articles II to VI of this Decision, and the Authorized Municipal Court shall be notified for the purposes of registration in the Land Register.




            The elucidation and accompanying documentation form an integral part of this Decision, which may be viewed by interested parties on the premises or by accessing the website of the Commission (http://www.aneks8komisija.com.ba) 




            Pursuant to Art. V para 4 Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, decisions of the Commission are final.




            This Decision shall enter into force on the date of its adoption and shall be published in the Official Gazette of BiH.


            This Decision has been adopted by the following members of the Commission: Zeynep Ahunbay, Amra Hadžimuhamedović, Dubravko Lovrenović,  Ljiljana Ševo and Tina Wik.



Chair of the Commission

Amra Hadžimuhamedović


No: 06-6-892/03-3

8 October 2003



E l u c i d a t i o n



            Pursuant to Article 2, paragraph 1 of the Law on the Implementation of the Decisions of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments, established pursuant to Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a “National Monument” is an item of public property proclaimed by the Commission to Preserve National Monuments to be a National Monument pursuant to Articles V and VI of Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina and property entered on the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Official Gazette of  BiH no. 33/02) until the Commission reaches a final decision on its status, as to which there is no time limit and regardless of whether a petition for the property in question has been submitted or not.

           On 4 December 2002 Fr. Kornelije Kordić, for the Parish Office Čitluk, and Prof. Andrija Stojić, for Matice Hrvatske Čitluk, sent a petition for the designation of “Bedra-Mainovac”, site with the remains of a Roman building in Vionica, Čitluk Municipality, as a national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

            Pursuant to the provisions of the law, the Commission proceeded to carry out the procedure for reaching a final decision to designate the Property as a National Monument, pursuant to Article V of Annex 8 and Article 35 of the Rules of Procedure of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments.



            In the procedure preceding the adoption of a final decision to proclaim the property a national monument, the following documentation was inspected:

Ÿ         Documentation on the location and current owner and user of the property (copy of cadastral plan and copy of land registry entry)

Ÿ         Data on the current condition and use of the property, including a description and photographs, data of war damage, data on restoration or other works on the property if any, etc.

Ÿ         Historical, architectural and other documentary material on the property, as set out in the bibliography forming part of this Decision.


            The findings based on the review of the above documentation and the condition of the site are as follows:


1. Information on the property


            The archaeological site of Bedra-Mainovac is on c.p. 354-356 (name of plot Mainovac) and 350, 350/1-8, 351, 352 (name of plot Bedra) and the roads c.p. 2592, 2493, c.m. Šurmanci, Vionica, Čitluk Municipality.

            Vionica is in the central part of Brotnjo in western Herzegovina.  Brotnjo is an area that extends, as a geographical entity, over the fertile karst plateau between Mostar, Čapljina and Grljevići. The village of Vionica, at an altitude of about 200m, lies beside the main Čitluk-Ljubuški road, about 4 km south-west of Čitluk.  There is also an intersection of side roads in Vionica, running northwards and southwards from the main road.  About 4 km east of Vionica is a large archaeological site in Krehin Gradac.  There are numerous scattered remains of human existence throughout the region around Čitluk, dating from prehistoric times to the late mediaeval period, which still remain to be investigated.

            The centre of the village is on Donja Vionica, the settlement in the valley.  The Bedra-Mainovac site is in Gornji (upper) Vionica.

            Bedra-Mainovac is a complex covering about 1 hectare and 250 sq.m. consisting of two separate plots, Bedra and Mainovac, with a small valley between them along which runs a side road that branches off from the main road running along the eastern side of both sites forming their boundary.

Historical information

            There is no direct historical information on Vionica, or of the wider Brotnjo area, until mediaeval times.  The region is very rich archaeologically, but still uninvestigated.  Archaeological surveys have provided basic information on the continuity of human life in these parts from prehistoric times through antiquity and the late mediaeval period to the present day.

            The identified surface finds of antiquity, from the first to the fourth century, in Vionica, fit the picture of high population densities throughout the area of Brotnjo and adjacent areas of western Herzegovina.  It seems that there was a large villa rustica in Vionica.  Several mediaeval stećak necropolises have been identified in the region of Vionica village – smaller ones with up to six stećak tombstones and larger ones with as many as thirty (Vego, 1981, 152).


2. Description of the monument

Old Vionica burial ground of Mainovac

            No burials have taken place for several decades now in the old Vionica burial ground on Mainovac plot, with the exception of two quite recently as a sign of respect and the tradition of the local inhabitants towards the deceased.  The burial ground is on a slight elevation overgrown with oak trees.  At the bottom of the burial ground is a chapel with a large slab stećak measuring 2.17 x 2.05 x 0.30 (0.50) m serving as the floor.  The slab is decorated with a border of trefoil vines and a symbolic shield with sword and crescent moon.  All these motifs are common on slabs and typical of Herzegovina.  The sword and shield, research to date suggests, indicate that the deceased belonged to the feudal landlord class.  The size of the slab and the workmanship of the decorative and symbolic motifs on it are typical of Herzegovina, though not in large numbers by comparison with other motifs. In Vionica, on the site of the same name (Kordić, 1998, 31, no. 9; Bešlagić, 1971, 317, no. 26; Zelenika, 1998, 44, location Ploča by the Primorac house nearby west of the large Vinina burial ground) are two large slab stećaks more than 2 m long, with a border of vines and figures of a shield and sword, one of which also has a rosette.  The same motif is to be found on a slab in Bare-Ploča (Zelenika, 1998, 44, Kordić,1998, 30, no.2; location Crkvina-mosque-Bare, Bešlagić, 1971, 317, no. 27).  The slab stećak in the Mainovac burial ground is probably in its original position.  No excavations have been conducted.

            There are several old crosses of archaic form, without decoration, in the burial ground.  On one of them the arms terminate in pommels.  On the front face a graphic cross is carved and on the other a crescent moon.  The grave is stone-edged.  Folk tradition associates the images of the cross and crescent moon on the same cruciform tombstone with the Ottoman period.  A specific tradition relates that two godfathers agreed that whichever died first would be given a tombstone with both these symbols on it (A. Zelenika, 1998, 45).  Such crosses were placed in other burial grounds in the region, for example in Blizanci in Brotnjo, on the sixteenth and seventeenth century graves of the Božić and Vidić families, and it may be deduced that this was in imitation of old mediaeval symbols (Vego, 1981, 152).

            There are several simple graves surrounded by low, roughly cut or natural stones in this burial ground. As a rule, there is a small stone in the form of a pillar at the head end.  There is a high concentration of such graves in the first rows as one enters the burial ground.  These graves are neatly dug in rows, and all are aligned on the same east-west axis.  Such graves are a frequent feature both in burial grounds with stećak tombstones, particularly larger ones (burial grounds of village communities or large families) in both Herzegovina and Bosnia.  They may be contemporary with mediaeval stećak tombstones or an expression of continuity of use of burial grounds in later centuries.  Such graves are usually on the outskirts of necropolises with stećaks.  There is a site of this kind with graves marked by stećak tombstones (13 monuments) and edged with a stone edging in Donja Vionica in Kordića wood, and one in Šumarak with 21 stećak tombstones (Zelenika, 1998, 46).

            Outside the chapel are two old oaks that are part of the belt of oak woodland around the burial ground.  Oaks are frequently associated with Catholic burial grounds in Herzegovina.

            There are eight recorded stećak necropolists in Vionica, of which two had as many as 120 tombstones, several had from 13 to 30, two from five to nine, and a few with single tombstones, including the slab in the Mainovac burial ground.      


            Bedra is about 120 m to the east of the old Vionica burial ground.  In the private garden of Nikola Filipović’s house are five or six large stacked up stone fragments from a Roman building, with mouldings and grooves for joining the stone blocks.  There are no movable archaeological items or building rubble on the land around them that might testify to the existence of a building on the site itself or nearby.  In the nearby vineyard which extends to this heap of antique stones are four stećak tombstones, with a fifth that has long since slid down the slope beside the road.

            There are a few places in Vionica where stones can be seen that used to belong to Roman buildings, and that were used in the mediaeval period as stećak tombstones.  The largest number are in Vinine (of 120 stećak tombstones counted, eight are antique pieces no longer in their original positions), Bilobrig, and in a smaller necropolis alongside the Catholic burial ground in Vionica.  The Vinine necropolis is about 250 m to the north of Bedra.  No investigations have been undertaken to ascertain where the building was and whether the antique remains in Bedra belong to the same or a similar building.  In any case, it must have been somewhere in the vicinity, since at that time stone was not transported over long distances (Zelenika, 1998, 44-45).  Close to Bilobrig are the remains of mortared walls, but it has not been possible to determine what kind of building they belonged to.

            About 300 m south of Bedra and Mainovac is a site called Crkvina, on which, when Đ. Basler surveyed it, Roman brick was found on the surface.  The site has not been excavated, but the assumption is that there could have been a church here in late antiquity (Kordić, 1998, 30, no. 2).  Not far from Crkvina is the spring known as Roman Well or Gornji Stuba, which flows all the year round.

            In Vionica, parts of antique buildings were found over a relatively small area in several places, probably brought from somewhere nearby, but no movable archaeological items were found associated with them.  The conditions were suitable for a sizeable Roman building – the area is fertile, with a good climate and water, close to the main road in antiquity, and the wider area around both banks of the Neretva is known to have been settled in antiquity.


3. Legal status to date

            No legal protection to date.


4. Research and conservation and restoration works 

            The site has been surveyed but not studied archaeologically.  It should be treated as a potential site of archaeological finds.


5. Current condition of the property

            During an on-site inspection, the following was ascertained:

Ÿ          The burial ground in Mainovac is for the most part no longer in use

Ÿ          In Bedro some pieces of stone from a sizeable building are piled up on a site within the private garden of the Filipović house.  In a nearby vineyard there are four stećak tombstones, perhaps in their original positions, and on the slope by the road alongside the same house is another stećak, not in its original position.  There are no remains on the surface that would suggest that there was a villa here.  Since the soil is tilled in the vineyard, there should be material there as on other similar sites.



            Applying the Criteria for the adoption of a decision on proclaiming an item of property a national monument (Official Gazette of BiH nos. 33/02 and 15/03), the Commission has enacted the Decision cited above.

            The Decision was based on the following criteria:

                        A.  Time frame

                        B.  Historical value

                        C. Artistic and aesthetic value

                                    C. i. quality of workmanship

                                    C.iv. composition

                        D. Clarity

                                    D.ii. evidence of historical change

                        F. Townscape/ Landscape value

                                    F.iii.  the building or group of buildings is part of group or site

                        G. Authenticity

                                    G.v.location and setting


            The following documents form an integral part of this Decision:

-         Copy of cadastral plan

-         Copy of land register entry and proof of title;

-         Photodocumentation;

-         Drawings



            During the procedure to designate the monument as a national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina the following works were consulted:


Fra Kordić, Kornelije, Nalazišta i povijesna mjesta u Brotnju. (Site and historical site in Brotnjo) Brotnjo, Collected papers, 2, Matica Hrvatska, Čitluk, 1998, 9-36.


Fra Kordić, Kornelije,  Vionica, selo u središtu Brotnja. (Vionica, a village in the centre of Brotnjo) Brotnjo, 2001.


Vego, Marko, Historija Brotnja od najstarijih vremena do 1878.godine. (History of Brotnjo from earliest times to 1878) Čitluk, 1981.


Zelenika, Anđelko, Stećci s područja Vionice. (Stećak tombstones from vionica) Brotnjo, collected papers, 2, Matica Hrvatska, Čitluk, 1998, 41-47. 


Mainovac cemetery in VionicaCemetery chapel and old oak at the Mainovac cemetery Stećak tombstone in the shape of big slab at the ground in the chapelOld cross, traditional elements from the medieval period
Different types of graves in line at Mainovac cemeteryOld crossOld graves framed with the stonesBedra area in Vionica
Remains from antique era at Bedra areaOld photo of remains from antique era at Bedra area  

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