Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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Necropolis with stećaks at the Ljeljen cemetery (Greek cemetery) in Ubosko (Ubosko 2), the historic site

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Status of monument -> National monument

             Pursuant to Article V paragraph 4 of Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Article 39, paragraph 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






            The historic site of the necropolis with stećaks at the Ljeljen cemetery (Greek cemetery) in Ubosko (Ubosko 2), Ljubinje municipality, is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument).

            The National Monument is located on cadastral plot no. 9/20 cadastral municipality Ljubinje, Republika Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

            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 Republika Srpska No. 9/02) shall apply to the National Monument.




            The Government of Republika Srpska 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 (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.




            For the purpose of ensuring the lasting preservation of the national monument the following protection zones are hereby defined:

            Protection Zone I consists of the area defined in Clause 1 para. 2 of this Decision, on which are located mediaeval tombstones and the graves beneath them within the fenced-off area of the Orthodox cemetery, known as Ljeljen cemetery.

            The following protective measures shall apply within this Zone:

-         The zone is a potential archaeological site, as a consequence of which all works entailing the movement of the stećak tombstones or excavation of the graves are prohibited as are works on the site in the immediate vicinity of the stećak tombstones

-         all works are prohibited other than conservation and restoration works, including those designed to display the monument, with the approval of the ministry responsible for regional planning in Republika Srpska (hereinafter: the regional planning ministry) and under the expert supervision of the heritage protection authority of Republika Srpska (hereinafter: the heritage protection authority),

-         the site of the monument shall be open and accessible to the public and may be used for educational and cultural purposes,

-         the erection of new tombstones and the digging of graves in the immediate vicinity of any of the stećak tombstones is prohibited,

-         the dumping of waste is prohibited.


            Protection Zone II consists of an area with a radius of 100 meters from the boundaries of Protection Zone I.  Within this Zone the following protective measures shall apply:

-         all construction or works that could have the effect of altering the area, including changes to the landscape, are prohibited,

-         no infrastructure works shall be permitted other than in exceptional cases, to a project approved by the ministry of regional planning and the expert opinion and supervision of the heritage protection authority.  The project shall include archaeological works and conservation,

-         the dumping of waste is prohibited.


            The Government of Republika Srpska shall be responsible in particular for ensuring that a study is made of the causes of damage to the stećak tombstones and the possibility of making good individual stećak tombstones.




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




            Everyone, and in particular the competent authorities of Republika Srpska, and urban and municipal authorities, shall refrain from taking any action that might damage the National Monument or jeopardize the preservation thereof.




            The Government of Republika Srpska, the Ministry responsible for regional planning in Republika Srpska and the heritage protection authority of Republika Srpska, 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 – V 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 Article V paragraph 4 of Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the 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.


Chairman of the Commission

Ljiljana Ševo

No: 05,2-2-700/03-1

21 January 2004



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.

At a session held on 1 and 2 July 1999 the Commission adopted a decision to add the historic site of the necropolis with stećak tombstones in Ljeljen cemetery (Ubosko 2), Ljubinje Municipality, to the Provisional List of National Monuments, under serial number 356 and the name necropolis of stećak tombstones Ubosko 2.

            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, paragraph 4 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, etc.

Ÿ         The current condition of the site

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


            The historic site of the necropolis with stećak tombstones in Ljeljen cemetery (Ubosko 2) is located on cadastral plot no. 10/1, cadastral municipality Ubosko in Ubosko, no. of title deed 69, owner Serbian Orthodox Parish in Ljubinje, Ljubinje Municipality, Republika Srpska.

The village of Ubosko is located within Ubosko polje, some 2 km east of the main Stolac-Ljubinje-Trebinje road. The road forks off at Žegulje pass and leads to Ubosko polje via Rđus. It is some 8 km from Ljubinje. The entire area has marked upland karst features, with scrub woods and two karst valleys: the Ubosko and Ljubija valleys. The Ubosko valley is roughly elliptical in form, approx. 2 km long and 800-1000 m wide. The largest settlement in the valley is Ubosko, a name known in the late mediaeval period. The settlement is located along the eastern edge of the valley. The houses and arable lands are located in the lowlands or on the rather more sunny side of the valley. The principal economic activity of the inhabitants, dictated by geographical conditions, was cattle raising, with the cultivation of crops as a secondary activity. The Ubosko 2 necropolis is located almost at the centre of the plain, on flat terrain, surrounded by pastures and, to one side, by a clump of oaks.  In the second half of the 20th century, the necropolis of stećak tombstones, alongside which a small Orthodox cemetery took shape over the past one hundred years, with old stone crosses that did not detract from the unity of the necropolis, the entire Orthodox cemetery was fenced off, a total area of 400 sq.m. which included the necropolis.

Historical information

            The area where Ljubinje municipality is located, between Stolac and Popovo polje, has not yet been fully explored. A number of hill forts and tumuli found there are believed to date back to the Bronze or Iron Age.  In antiquity, a Roman road used to run from Stolac via Žegulje and Ljubinje. The remains of Roman buildings have been found in Žegulja and the remains of a Roman settlement have been found in Ljubinje. No true archaeological research has yet been carried out in the area.

            In the early mediaeval period the territory of present-day Ljubinje municipality belonged to the large župa  or county of Popovo.  It was the northernmost part of Popovo župa, adjacent to Dubrave and Dabar župas. One boundary is formed by the natural boundary on Žegulja spur, geographically separating the Trebisnjica and Bregava basins; another by the Sitnica and Kulaš massif surrounding Popovo and Dabar župas (Anđelić, 1983, 8-69). Politically, the region belonged to the district of Hum, ruled by the Nemanjić’s from the 12th to almost the first half of the 14th century, with brief interruptions. From 1324 to 1326 Bosnia’s ban Stjepan II Kotromanić occupied that area of Hum. By 1373, his successor Tvrtko had extended the borders of the Bosnian state southwards to include the entire area of Hum and to the east as far as Kotor and Onogošt (Ćirković 1964, 88-90, 162). The ascent of the Kosača family began during Tvrtko's reign. Vlatko Vuković, of that family, was granted most of Hum, over which the family maintained complete control under Sandalj Hranić (1392-1435), Herzeg Stjepan Vukčić Kosača (1435-1466) and his sons until 1482. The Ottomans occupied the area around Ljubinje between 1465 and 1467 (Šabanović, 1959, 160). The Ljubinje nahija (administrative district) was entered in the 1468/1469 census of the Bosnian sandžak.  In the first census by name of the sandžak, the vilayet (province) of Herzegovina, several places were listed in this region (Aličić, 1985, various). 

The region seems to have been uninhabited in the early mediaeval period, since in the 14th and 15th centuries numerous katun  Vlachs belonging to Vlachi inferiores settled there. According to historical sources dating from the 1470s, one of the four katuns of the Herzegovina Vlachs, «the Burmaz clan/tribal unit», the largest of the Vlach fraternities, inhabited the Ubosko valley. At that time, Milobrat Obradovićs was the katunar or leader of one Burmaz group in Ubosko (Hrabak, 1956, 29-30, 33; Anđelić, 1983, 67; Ratković, 2000, 135). It is not known how many other katuns there were or which Vlach groups they belonged to. Ratković refers to three katuns in Ubosko (Ratković, 2002, 153). Ubosko seems to have been one of the more densely populated areas of the Ljubinje region in the first half of the 15th century, as evidenced by four documented necropolises and two epitaphs on stećak tombstones: that of Pomoćan Ostojić on stećak number 7 in Ubosko 1 necropolis and of Dabiživ Radovanović in the Grebuše necropolis, with the remains of what was probably a mediaeval church (Bešlagić, 1965, 142, 151). Dabiživ Radovanović was the “pride of the lead”, the son of Radovan from Milobrat Obradović's jamaat in the largest Vlach clan of Burmaz (Tošić, 1999, 124; Aličić, 1985, 137). The last reference to him is in Dubrovnik sources in 1447, which means that his tombstone cannot be more recent than the last quarter of the 15th century.


2. Description of the property

            Ubosko 2 necropolis contains 32 stećaks: 31 chests, 1 ridged or gable-shaped on a pedestal and part of a broken tombstone. The stećaks lie within an area measuring approximately 22 x 10 m. All the tombstones, apart from one chest (number 26) lie north-west/south-east, matching the natural lie of the land. They are arranged in more or less regular rows running south-west/north-east. Some grouping of the graves is observable, widthwise or lengthwise. Some stećaks have probably been moved, or were placed as they now stand (nos. 21, 24, 28), deviating from the basic orientation of the other graves. They are well cut and of good workmanship.

            Eight of the tombstones are decorated. A decorated gable-shaped stećak standing on a pedestal (Number 5) occupies a central position, with other decorated stećaks around, grouped at the centre and north-west edge of the necropolis.


1. A irregularly shaped chest which has sunk into the ground (180 x 80 x 25 cm, with the rest of the chest below ground). There are two stylized Greek crosses with triple-banded arms on the horizontal face. The outer lines on each arm terminate in an anchor, while the middle, slightly longer ones are forked at the tip, forming a double-bandede wreath around the cross.

2. An irregularly shaped chest sunk into the ground (160 x 70 x 20 cm, with the rest below ground). The horizontal face has been hollowed out into a «kamenica,» with a motif resembling a cup next to it.

3. A regular-cut chest much of which has sunk into the ground (160 x 70 x 25 cm, with the rest below ground). There is a badly weathered rosette on the horizontal face.

4. A chest (115 x 58 x 20 cm, with the rest below ground). A crescent moon is engraved on the horizontal face.

5. A tall gable with a pedestal (160 x 85 x 110 cm). There is a moulded band at the base of the roof planes, beneath which there are vertical moulded ribs on the side faces, terminating at the base in imitation column bases.  The angled gable of the east front face has a carving of a four-legged animal with an elongated body and snout and a long tail.  The legs end in small paws with three longish toes resembling claws.  At the base of the gable, next to the front paws, is a moulded circular wreath with a bulging centre.  There is a carved trefoil rosette in a large circular wreath on the west front face.

6. A cracked chest of quality workmanship (180 x 80 x 45 cm), with a well-made stylized cross on the horizontal face, like that on tombstone no. 1.

7. A regular-cut but tilted and sunken chest (180 x 95 x 85 cm).  The west front faces bears a moulded frieze of a wavy line with trefoils.  Below the border the entire field is surrounded by a moulded twisted band within which is a triple-banded Greek cross with arms of equal size.  The outer bands terminate in the form of an anchor and the central band in a circle.  A bird stands on one end of the transom.  On the east front face, within a field surrounded by a wavy line with trefoils, is the motif of a rectangular shield with a single oblique band, and a sword beneath.  The south side face is carved with a hunting scene, a deer in the centre, a horseman and dog to one side and a man on foot with a bow and arrow to the other.   There was also a scene of some kind, now unrecognizable, on the north side face.  With the exception of the west front face with the cross, the decorations on the other faces can barely be made out.

8. A chest of quality workmanship (147 x 73 x 45 cm). The horizontal face is surrounded by a border of oblique parallel lines.  The west front face has a carved shield with a sword below.  A stylized cross has been carved onto this motif.  The north side face has the same border of oblique parallel lines surrounding an engraved scene of two deer.


            A comparison of the motifs and the way the ornaments are carved or engraved in this necropolis shows that the motifs are those commonly seen on the stećaks of the Ljubinje area and in Herzegovina as a whole: triple-banded crosses or ellipses, animals with large claws and/or elongated limbs, borders of tendrils with trefoils between, etc. The same motif features on tombstones 1 and 6, while two adjacent tombstones bear a shield and sword design, indicating that the deceased probably belonged to the gentry. The chronological framework for the necropolis is the 14th and the 15th centuries, but a more precise dating, based on historical data and comparison with other necropolises in the Stolac and Ljubinje area where there are many motifs and forms in common, would be the 15th century (Bešlagić, 1965, 162; Tošić, 1999, 128).


3. Legal status to date

            In the procedure prior to the adoption of a final decision to designate the property, documents on protected properties were consulted and it was ascertained that the site was not protected.

            The historic site of the necropolis with stećak tombstones at the Ljeljen cemetery in Ubosko (Ubosko 2), Ljubinje Municipality, is on the Provisional List of National Monuments, under serial number 356 and the name Ubosko 2 necropolis of stećak tombstones.

            The Regional Plan for the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina to 2000 listed the necropolis as a Category II monument.


4.   Research and conservation and restoration works

            Between 1960 and 1963, Š. Bešlagić visited and studied necropolises within the territory of Ljubinje Municipality as part of his research into stećak tombstones in Herzegovina, and published his findings in Naše starine (Our Antiquities) X, in 1965.

            No restoration or conservation works have been conducted to date.


5. Current condition of the property

            The following was established during an on-site inspection in January 2004:           

            The stećak tombstones are of very good workmanship, but many monuments have been damaged by weathering, or have sunk into the ground; some have fallen over or are broken or chipped. By comparison with the situation in the 1960s, the tombstones are still more overgrown with patches of lichen, so that the decoration on some stećaks can barely be made out.

In recent times, the burial ground, covering an area of 1100 sq.m., has been surrounded with a wall, separating it from the natural surroundings.  Three stećaks weere built into the base of the south-west wall; the remainder are in the places where Bešlagić found them in 1960.

            For the time being new graves are being dug in the empty space along the edge of the burial ground, although there is a noticeable tendency to dig them near some of the tombstones. This will further detract from the appearance of the necropolis, which has already been spoiled.



            Applying the Criteria for the adoption of a decision on proclaiming an item of property a national monument, (BiH Official Gazette, No. 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.ii. composition

D. Clarity

D. ii. evidence of historical change

F. Townscape/ Landscape value

F.ii. meaning in the landscape

G. Authenticity

G.i. form and design

G.ii. material and content

G.v. location and setting

G.vi. spirit and feeling

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:

-         Photo documentation;

-         Drawings



            During the procedure to proclaim the necropolis a national monument of BiH, the following works were consulted:


1956. Hrabak, Bogumil, “O hercegovačkim vlaškim katunarima prema poslovnoj knjizi dubrovčanina Dživana Pripčinovića” (On Herzegovina's Vlach katuns acording to the the business records of Dživan Pripčinović from Dubrovnik) Journal of the National Museum, History and Ethnography, new series, No. IX, Sarajevo, 1956, 29-39 (Cyrillic).


1964 Ćirković, Sima, Istorija srednjovjekovne bosanske države (History of the Mediaeval Bosnian State) Belgrade, 1964


1964  Vego, Marko, “Zbornik srednjovjekovnih natpisa Bosne i Hercegovine” (Collection of mediaeval inscriptions of Bosnia and Herzegovina) Volume II, National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo, 1964, No. 97, 98, pp 44-47. 


1964. Bešlagić, Šefik, “Ljubinje – srednjovjekovni nadgrobni spomenici” (Ljubinje – Medieval tombstones) Our Antiquities X, Institute for Protection of Cultural Monuments of S. R. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo, 1965, 113-165.


1983. Anđelić, Pavao, “Srednjovjekovna župa Popovo” (the mediaeval county of Popovo) Tribunia, No. 7, Trebinje, 1983, 61-79.


1985. Aličić, Ahmed, Poimenični popis sandžaka vilajeta Hercegovina (List of sub-provinces of Herzegovina province).Oriental Institute, Sarajevo, Sarajevo, 1985


1999. Tošić, Đuro, “Prilog identifikovanju i datovanju vlaških stećaka u istočnoj Hercegovini” (Towards identification and dating of Vlach stećaks in East Herzegovina) Historical evidence, Year LXXII, No. 1-2, Podgorica, 1999, 105-129.


2002. Ratković, Aleksandar, Ljubinje, srednjovjekovne nekropole i crkvišta (Ljubinje, Medieval necropolises and Churches).Ljubinje Municipality, Ljubinje, 2002.



Necropolis with stećak tombstones Ubosko IILjeljen cemetery, sixties of XX century Ljeljen cemetery, photo from 2003Ubosko II
Stećak tombstone IStećak tombstone I, sixties of XX centuryStećak tombstone V, detailStećak tombstone V
stećak tombstones 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10Stećak tombstone VII, detail  

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