home    
 
Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

Provisional List

About the Provisional List

List of Petitions for Designation of Properties as National Monuments

Heritage at Risk

60th session - Decisions

Late antique dual basilica and necropolis of stećak tombstones in Žitomislići, the archaeological site

gallery back

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 20 to 26 January 2004 the Commission adopted a

 

D E C I S I O N

 

I

 

            The archaeological site of the late antique twin basilica and necropolis with stećak tombstones in Žitomislići is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument).

            The National Monument is located on cadastral plot 31, land registry entry no 9, the northern part of plot 32/4, 32/7, 68 and 67;cadastral municiplity Žitomislići, Municipality Mostar South, Federation of BiH, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

            The National Monument consists of the archaeological site with the basilica, a residential building, a necropolis with stećak tombstones and part of the movable heritage items found on the archaeological site, now in the Museum of Herzegovina in Mostar and listed in the inventory records of the Museum.

            The provisions relating to protection 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.

 

II

 

            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, display and rehabilitate the National Monument.

            The Government of the Federation shall be responsible for providing the resources for drawing up and implementing the necessary technical documentation for the rehabilitation of 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.

 

III

 

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

            Protection Zone I comprises the area defined in Clause 1 para 2 of this Decision.

In this zone the following protection measures shall apply:

Ÿ         Only research works and conservation and restoration works shall be permitted, including 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).

Ÿ         No construction or works that could have the effect of altering the site shall be permitted, including new burials and the erection of new tombstones

Ÿ         the erection of temporary facilities or permanent structures not designed solely for the protection and display of the National Monument is prohibited.

Ÿ         The walls shall be cleared of vegetation that poses a danger to the structure of the monument

Ÿ         The site of the National Monument shall be open and accessible to the public and may be used for educational and cultural purposes.

            Protection Zone II consists of a zone extending 100 m from the boundary of Protection Zone I.

            In this zone the following protection measures shall apply:

Ÿ         no works are permitted, nor the erection of temporary or permanent structures not intended for the protection and presentation of the National Monument, nor of those that are detrimental to the natural environment and block the view of the national monument

Ÿ         the dumping of all kinds of waste is prohibited.

           

IV

 

            The removal of the movable items specified in Clause 1 para. 3 of this Decision is prohibited.

            By way of exception to the provisions of paragraph 1 of this Clause, the temporary removal from Bosnia and Herzegovina of the movable items 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 movable items in any way.  In granting permission for the temporary removal of the items, the Commission shall stipulate all the conditions under which the removal may take place, the date by which the items 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.

 

V

 

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

 

VI

 

            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 or jeopardize the preservation thereof.

 

VII

 

            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.

 

VIII

 

            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) 

 

IX

 

            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.

 

X

 

            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 

Ljiljana Ševo

No: 06-6-1033/03-5

20 January 2004

Sarajevo

 

 

E l u c i d a t i o n

 

I – INTRODUCTION

            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 20 November 2003 Lidija Fekeža MSc, an archaeologist from Sarajevo, sent a proposal/petition to designate the archaeological site of the late antique basilica in Žitomislići 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.

      

II – PROCEDURE PRIOR TO DECISION

            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, 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.Details of the property

Location

            The late antique architectural complex is located in Crkvina, in the eastern part of the Orthodox cemetery in Žitomislići which is in active use, between the right bank of the river Neretva and the main Mostar-Metković road.  The village of Žitomislići is 18 km from Mostar by the main road to the Adriatic.

            To the west of  the basilica and south of the area occupied by the Orthodox graves is a necropolis with 98 stećak tombstones, of which 40 are slabs, 57 and chests and one is a sarcophagus, mainly undecorated.

Historical information

            There are a number of sites (hillforts and tumuli) belonging to the Illyrians in the environs of the Žitomislići plain.  To judge from the results of partial archaeological investigations in Velika Gradina (gradina = hillfort) in Gubavica, these sites mainly belonged to the Iron Age.  The Žitomislići plain was not of interest to the Illyrians because of lack of communications with the Neretva gorge and its unfavourable strategic position (Anđelić, 1978, 308). 

            Evidence of habitation in the Roman period is found in the remains of the ramparts of a Roman fortress on the hill above the field, known to the locals as Kosmaj.  In Žitomislići, a Roman gravestone was also found (Sergejevski, 1925, 87).

            Mostar and its environs was on the transitional area between the coastal region of the province of Dalmatia and its hinterland in the interior.  Erected on a site where these two influences intersected, the basilica in Žitomislići, like the one in Cim, bears the features of both old Christian basilicas from both Bosnia and Herzegovina and Dalmatia.

            The relatively sparsely inhabited area in the late antique period was very suitable for the erection of religious architectural complex of the monasterium type for monastic communities.

 

2. Description of the property

            The basilica was erected on the perfectly flat terrain of the Žitomislići plain which was sometimes flooded by the river Neretva.  A type of twin basilica (basilica geminata), its ground plan is an original example of late antique religious building in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  The overall length is 17 m and width 25.57 m.  The orientation is the usual east-west. It was surrounded by a stone wall (50 x 25 m) enclosing a large forecourt to the west and a somewhat smaller one to the east.  The south and north walls fitted into the surrounding wall of the basilica.

            The basilica consists of the north and south churches.

            The north church consists of a nave with presbytery (A), a baptistery (B), a narthex (C), a diaconicon (D) and a prothesis (E).

            The nave and presbytery is a rectangular central space with a semicircular apse at the east end. Traces of the flooring, 8cm thick, has survived in a small area right of the apse.  It consisted of a layer of river pebbles with lime mortar over. A surviving piece of mudstone in situ is probably the remains of a small altar railing.

            The baptistery is a rectangular area to the north of the nave, entered from the narthex at the west end.  There is one semicircular apse on the east and one apsidiole on the north side, in which there is a round water basin (piscina) with a diameter of 1.20 m and a depth of approx. 1 m.  The part of the piscina that rises above floor level is octagonal in shape, as can be seen from impressions in the mortar.  In the centre of the piscina is a hole to let the water out.  At the junction of the west and north walls part of a wall has survived that is probably the remains of a stairway leading to the northern churchyard.  At the east end of the baptistery is the entry to another area, an irregular rectangle in shape, the use of which is not known and which also led onto the churchyard.

            The narthex is a rectangular area at the west end of the basilica, with a main entrance about 2.70 m wide.  On the inside of the wall to the left of the main entrance is the remains of a wall that probably served as a stone bench.  To the south of the narthex is an unroofed area with which it communicates through an entrance 1.03 m wide.

            Two roughly square areas south of the nave were probably used as a diaconicon and prothesis.  To the west of the prothesis was an entrance 1 m wide, while the doorway between the diaconicon and nave was 1.04 m wide (Anđelić, 1978, 295; Basler, 1972, 135, 139, Basler, 1986, 70)

            The south church was built at the same time as the north church and consisted of two areas: a nave (H) and a narthex (I).

            The nave is a rectangular area with a semicircular apse at the east end.  The north and south walls had pilasters, which were probably only for decorative purposes (Anđelić, 1978, 296).

            The narthex is a square area with a main entrance 1.30 m wide.  As well as communicating with the nave, it also did so with an unroofed area to the north.  The flooring has survived only in the apse. South of the narthex and nave are three areas (K, L and M) which were probably built on later.

            Scholarship has yet to provide an adequate explanation for the purpose of twin churches in the late antique period.  The north church was the main church, and various hypotheses are put forward for the south church. Drawing comparisons with all the twin late antique basilicas in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Basler is even of the view that these were churches forming part of monastic communities (Basler, 1972, 139).  The same view of Žitomislići as a monastery is held by the archaeologist who conducted the investigations, T. Anđelić (1978, 311).

            Building techniques.   The basilica is built of quarry stone and a small amount of cut limestone, laid in horizontal layers (opus incertum) in lime mortar.  The walls range in thickness from 0.60 to 0.65 cm.  A large quantity of Roman roof tiles (tegule) were found in the walls, which were mainly used for roofing religious buildings in the late antique period.  The floor consisted of river pebbles with lime mortar over, but has almost completely disappeared.

           The residential building (measuring 19,90 X 6,50 m) is about fifteen metres from the basilica and lies east-west.  The walls are 0.60 m thick, and survive to a height of 1 m.  It had two main entrances: one on the north and one on the south.  A partition wall divided it into two.  Along the entire length of the south side a narrow area (annex) was built on, and to the north-west is a square room the purpose of which is unknown.  To the left of the south entrance the remains of steps were found, and at the corner between the north and the partition wall was a stone hearth. The masonry technique shows that it was built at the same time as the basilica. It was probably used to house members of the monastic community.

            Movable archaeological material. A large quantity of archaeological material was found in the building.  Moulded or sculpted stone with rich, diverse ornamentation, was mainly found in the diaconicon and prothesis, where it was probably ended up from the presbytery of the north church in the 19th century when monks from the Žitomislići monastery conducted excavations (Simonović, 1891, 9). The small quantity of stone fragments with sculptural decorations in the south church suggest that it had little or nothing in the way of decorations.  This is explained by the different purposes of the two churches – the north church was used for regular liturgy, and the south church for memorial services.

            For the most part the stone fragments belong to the altar rail: base, uprights and pluteus or crossbar.  The decorative motifs consist of stylized leaves in the form of swirling rosettes, vine leaves and grapes, lilies, cypress, three-strand interlacing, and figures of animals, birds and lambs.  One small piece of slab the purpose of which is not known was incised with a row of small squares, a unique example of this design in this part of the world.  Parallel circular grooves are visible on the uprights.  The capitals are decorated with volutes and leaves resembling acanthus.  Among the few architectural fragments, an impost is of particular interest, with a vase of vine leaves and grapes on the slanting surface.  Between the vine leaves are volutes, and above them a sculptured circle with a cross (crux coronata).  On the other side is a cross with broadened ends and longer vertical shafts (crux commissa).  Among other stone items, reference should be made to a large stone vessel found in the annex of the residential building, and a Roman stone ball.  A few small items of pottery, iron and glass were found on the site.  To judge from their forms, manufacture, ornamentation, workmanship and firing technique, the pottery from  Žitomislići is of early mediaeval Slav production.

            Mediaeval tombs.  Of the ten or so tombs found in the late antique ruins of the church, five were in the south church, of which five were topped by unadorned stećak tombstones.  None of the tombs contained grave goods, and all lay east-west.  In the portico of the residential building, there were four tombs, one of which had two skeletons.  The only mediaeval find was one earring with bopci.

            To judge from its basic layout and the ornamentation on the stone material, the Žitomislići basilica can be only roughly dated to the fifth or sixth century.

 

3. Legal status to date

            Neither the Institute for the Protection of Monuments of the Federal Ministry of Culture and Sport nor the Institute for the Protection of the Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage of Moster has any information on the legal status to date of the property.

            The property is not listed on the Provisional List of National Monuments of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments; the decision is enacted on the basis of the petition referred to above..

            The Regional Plan for BiH to 2000 lists the property as a category I monument.

 

4. Research and conservation and restoration works 

            Between June 1970 and 1973, systematic archaeological excavations and research were carried out under the management of Tomo Anđelić, custodian of the Museum of Herzegovina, and Dr Pavao Anđelić, a qualified staff member of the National Museum in Sarajevo.  The north church was discovered in 1970 and the south part of the twin church in 1971.  During these excavations the interior of the basilica and the residential building were excavated and cleared.  In 1972 and 1973 the exterior area of the basilica and the residential building were uncovered.

            In 1972 and 1973 conservation works were carried out under the management of Dr Ivo Bojanovski from the  Republican Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of BiH in association with Tomo Anđelić.

            The Museum of Herzegovina in Mostar contains a single fragment of a stone slab.  The rest of the archaeological material has not survived (Communication no. 06-6-1033/03-4 dated 18 December 2003).

 

 5. Current condition of the property

            An on site inspection in November 2003 ascertained as follows:

            Access to the property starts at the main entrance gate to the Orthodox cemetery, leads through the necropolis with stećak tombstones and ends at the east of the necropolis.  The archaeological site of the basilica and much of the necropolis of stećak tombstones lies within the fenced off area of the Orthodox cemetery, but the extension of the cemetery with new interments does not for the present pose a threat to the site.  As a result of the lack of regular maintenance the entire site, including the basilica and the residential building, are neglected and overgrown with weeds.  The conserved walls of the basilica and the residential building are in good condition.

                       

III CONCLUSION

            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.iv. composition

                        C.vi. value of construction

            D. Clarity

                        D.ii. evidence of historical change

            G. Authenticity

                        G.i. form and design

                        G.ii. material and content

                        G.v. location and setting

            H. Rarity and representativity

                        H.i. unique or rare example of a certain type or style

 

            The following documents form an integral part of this Decision:

-         Copy of cadastral plan

-         Photodocumentation;

-         Drawings

      

Bibliography:

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

-         Anđelić, Tomo, Crkvina-Žitomislići - kasnoantička bazilika.(Crkvina-Žitomislići  - late antique basilica) Archaeological Review 14/1972. Publisher: Federation of Archaeological Societies of Yugoslavia, Belgrade, 1972, 101-102.

-         Anđelić, Tomo, “Crkvina”, Žitomislići kod Mostara - kasnoantička dvojna bazilika (III nastavak).(Crkvina, Žitomislići near Mostar – late antique twin basilica [part III]) Archaeological Review 15/1973. Publisher: Federation of Archaeological Societies of Yugoslavia, Belgrade, 1973, 80-81.

-         Anđelić, Tomo, Kasnoantička dvojna bazilika (basilica geminata) u Žitomislićima kod Mostara. (Late antique twin basilica (basilica geminata) in Žitomislići near Mostar) Journal of the National Museum, Archaeology, new series, XXXII, 1977, Sarajevo, 1978, 293-330.

-         Anđelić, Tomo, Neki objekti kasnoantičke sakralne arhitekture u okolini Mostara. U: Dolina Neretve od prethistorije do ranog srednjeg vijeka. (Some examples of late antique religious architecture in the Mostar region, in: The Neretva valley from prehistory to the early mediaeval period) Seminar – Metković, 4-7 October 1977. Publication of the Croatian Archaeological Society, Split 1980, 257-260.

-         Anđelić, Tomo, Žitomislić, Mostar - kasnoantička bazilika. (Žitomislići, Mostar – late antique basilica) Archaeological Review 13/1971. Publisher: Federation of Archaeological Societies of Yugoslavia, Belgrade, 1971, 74-76.

-         Basler, Đuro, Arhitektura kasnoantičnog doba u  Bosni i Hercegovini (Architecture of the late antique period in BiH), Cultural Heritage, Veselin Masleša, Sarajevo, 1972

-         Sergejevski, Dimitije, Rimski natpis iz Žitomislića, (Roman inscription from Žitomislići) Journal of the National Museum XXXVII,  Sarajevo, 1925., 155-158

-         Simonović. Radoslav, Manastir Žitomislić u Hercegovini. (Žitomislići monaastery in Herzegovina) Chronicle of Matice srpske, vol. 168, Novi Sad 1891. 1-10.

 

 

 

 

 



Archeological site in ŽitomislićLate antique dual basilica in ŽitomislićiBasilica after restauration in 1972Basilica in Žitomislići, photo from 2003
Residential buildingOrthodox cemetery and necropolis of stećak tombstones North churchEntrance, view from the west
Archeological material   


BiH jezici 
Commision to preserve national monuments © 2003. Design & Dev.: