Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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60th session - Decisions

Dabravine with remains from the Bronze Age and late antiquity, the archaeological 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 2 to 8 March 2004 the Commission adopted a






            The archaeological site of Dabravine with remains from the Bronze Age and late antiquity, Vareš Municipality, is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument).

            The National Monument is located on part of cadastral plot no. 1516/1, (on the highest part of Gradina hill), with a surface area of 1200 sq.m., cadastral municipality Dabravine, Vareš Municipality, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

            The National Monument consists of the archaeological site of the remains of the late antique basilica in Dabravine and the movable items found on the archaeological site, now in the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo and the Regional Museum in Visoko, which are listed in the inventories of the museums.

            The provisions relating to protection and rehabilitation 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, 27/02 and 6/04) 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 (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 consists of the archaeological site on the area defined in Clause I para. 2 of this Decision.

            All works on the monuments comprising the architectural ensemble are prohibited other than conservation and restoration works, 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.

            The zone is a potential archaeological site, in consequence of which all works that could in any way have the effect of altering the site or jeopardizing the monument are prohibited.

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

            The dumping of waste is prohibited.




            The removal of the movable items stipulated in Clause 1 para. 3 of this Article (hereinafter: the movable items) from Bosnia and Herzegovina is prohibited.

            By way of exception to the provisions of paragraph 1 of this Clause, the temporary removal from Bosnia and Herzegovina of the 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 the temporary removal of the movable items 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 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.




            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 or jeopardize the preservation and rehabilitation thereof.




            The Government of the Federation, the Federation 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

Ljiljana Ševo

No: 05.1-2-1068/04-4

2 March  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.

            On 17 February 2004 Lidija Fekeža MA, archaeologist from Sarajevo, submitted a proposal/petition to designate the archaeological site of Dabravine with remains from the Bronze Age and late antiquity, Vareš 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:

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

-  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.

-  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 village of Dabravine lies between Vareš and Breza, 25 km as the crow flies from Sarajevo.  The area is mountainous, densely forested and almost uninhabited.  The surrounding hills slope steeply down towards the gorge of the Stavnja brook. The remains of the late antique basilica lie above the left bank of the brook, on the barely accessible plateau known as Gradina, at an altitude of 771 m above sea level.


Historical information

            In prehistoric and ancient times the area was thinly populated.  At the very summit of the elevation of Gradina, shards of prehistoric pottery dating from the Bronze Age have been found (V. Paškvalin; N. Miletić, 1988. no. 14.86, 19). Below the summit is a plateau with the remains of the foundations of Roman and late antique fortification substructures.  There is no trace of any ancient roads in the vicinity.  The closest Roman settlement was in Breza, six kilometres to the south-west.  Archaeological investigations have demonstrated that Breza was one of the major centres of the Illyrian tribe of Desidiati from the 2nd century BCE on.  There is documentary evidence to the Breza area dating from the early common era.  The remains of two churches have been found in Breza which, like the one in Dabravina, date from the late antique period (Bojanovski, 1988., 152-153).  

            The erection of the basilica can be dated broadly to the late 5th to first half of the 6th century.  Graffiti were found on one stone fragment with the late antique names MARC (cellinus) and BO (nosus, - nifacius). A fragment of pluteus bears a cross with two lambs, which may be earlier than the end of the 5th century. (D. Sergejevski, 1956, 39).

            The basilica was destroyed by fire.  Its end probably came with the incursions of the Avars and Slavs in the late 6th or early 7th century.  Before this, repairs to the stone fixtures had been carried out.  During excavations, fragments of tile, melted window glass and Avar arrows were found in the ashes.


2. Description of the property

            The site on which the basilica was built was surrounded by a wall and guarded by two tower-like buildings.  In addition to the church, a number of small rooms reminiscent of monks' cells were also found within the walls.  The terrain slopes steeply from west to east, so that the narthex is dug into the rock of the hillside whereas the presbytery has a substantial retaining wall.  The building lies north-east/south-west.  The workmanship is very poor, with the use of quarry stone cut only in places, laid at random in the walls (opus incertum) and bonded with poor quality lime mortar.  The floor was of rammed earth or screed.  The roof cladding was Roman tiles.

The basilica, which measures 15.90 x 11.28 m, is a single-nave structure consisting of a narthex  (C,C1,C2), nave (A), presbytery with apse (B), two rooms to the south (D and E) and two rooms to the north (F and G).

            The narthex is a rectangular area divided into three sections.  A 40 cm high bench (subselium) was set against the west wall.  In the two sections C and C1 the width was 0.40 m and in the third (C3) 0.60 m.  The entrance was to the south, the only entrance to the church.  The walls were plastered.  The floor level (screed) in the narthex is 0.55 m higher than the floor of the nave. During renewed digs, two shards of Roman tile, a nail, two iron cramps, a small iron key and a stone with melted glass adhering to it were found.

            The nave of the church was entered from the narthex through a door the width of which was hard to determine, given the extent of damage to the wall.  A large stone used as a step was found by the entrance.  The nave is of irregular shape, about 4.5 m long and 5.10 m wide at the west end, 5.18 m wide at the east end, so that the side walls are not parallel.

            Fragments of the mensa, subselia and cathedra were found in the presbytery, which was badly damaged during excavations in 1891.  The base of the mensa had survived, with two holes to take pillars, along with pillars made of poor quality marble, and a fragment of the table.  The other parts of the mensa had rolled down the slope. The presbytery terminated in a semicircular apse.  In the retaining wall below the apse there was a vaulted tomb chamber entered from outside, from the north-east.  The total length of the presbytery was 6.0 m.

            The foundations of the altar partition (septum) were found in situ, shifted unusually deeply towards the west within the nave. The area was thus divided into a relatively small nave for the size of presbytery.

            The altar partition consisted of four monolithic columns, linked above the capitals by an architrave beam.  There were parapet slabs in the lower section, between the columns, except in the central intercolumnar space which served as a passageway.  The altar partition was decorated with dense carved designs in variety.  The columns consisted of a square base, circular column and capital.  The bases were decorated on the front with twining vine tendrils with leaves and bunches of grapes and surrounded by a simple band. Near the top of the bases, there was a relief figure of a fish in a hollow.  The columns themselves were decorated in two ways – with vine leaves, or with twisted fluting.  The top of the columns had projecting rings.  The capitals were imaginatively decorated with sculpted animal heads.  One type of capital had four calves' heads, with the head of a bird of prey with curved beak above them. Another type of capital had four rams' heads with curved horns the line of which was matched by stylized floral motifs. Between the animal heads, in the lower third of the capital, are human figures with monks' hoods, the heads of deer and bear, or a full human figure.  Near the top of the capital is a small abacus in the form of a level plinth.  The third type of capital is decorated with four birds with outspread wings.

            Unlike the columns, the slabs of the altar partition are worked in bas relief.  Fragments of two of these slabs show that each of them had two separate fields with a common terminal beam decorated with floral motifs.  The slabs had identical scenes. In one field, in an area framed by the fluted columns and the curtain that hung on the epistyle, was the figure of a saint with right arm raised.  In the other field was a cross with two lambs with haloes around their heads.  Two doves stand on the arms of the cross, which are hung with lamps.

            In 1891 a fragment of the ara was found in the foundations of the altar partition, but it was left in the ruins and rediscovered in 1954, shifted to the centre of the apse.  The upper surface is well preserved, dressed with a sharp iron.  A volute has survived to one side.  A hollow measuring 22 x 18 cm served to take the base of the partition.  A few letters have survived on the remains of the original surface: [ I (ovi) O (ptimo) ] M (aximo) / ......AVI [tus?... ] P.   The letters are 6.5 cm high and can be dated by their form to the 3rd century. (D.Sergejevski,  1956, 31).

            There was an irregularly shaped room to the north of the nave, 2.87 m wide at the east end and 3.40 m wide at the west end by the apse.  The room was divided by steps into two sections, with the floor level of the area with piscina (F) 1.60 m higher than the floor level of the part with an apse (G).

            The piscina was 60 cm deep and half sunk into the ground.  It was in the form of a cross with rounded angles, and had two steps in each arm of the cross.  Several shards of Roman tile, a shard of black pottery and small shard of thin glass were found in rooms F and G.

            There were two adjoining rooms (D and E) to the south of the nave.  The first room (D) was entered from the narthex, and room E was entered from room D.  The first room was 2.12 m wide by the west wall and 2.10 m wide by the east wall, with a length of 4.15 m.  Room E was linked to the presbytery by a door 0.80 m wide.  During renewed digs a shard of Roman tile and a decorated stone fragment were found, moved here during the 1891 excavations.

            In ground plan, the basilica in Dabravina is a typical example of a late antique basilica in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  The construction was entrusted to unskilled village craftsmen, but the stone fixtures, to judge from their type and precision of workmanship and their rich decorative motifs, were the product of experienced stonemasons' workshops.  The workmanship of the sculpture is reminiscent of wood carving.  The decorative motifs are mainly typical of late antiquity, and seemingly reveal links with Syrian ornamental designs (D. Sergejevski,  1956, 40).


3. Legal protection to date

            According to the Institute for the Protection of Monuments of the Federal Ministry of Culture and Sport, the archaeological site of Dabravine with remains from the Bronze Age and late antiquity, Vareš Municipality, Federation of Bosnia and Heryegovina, is not registered as a cultural monument.

            The Regional Plan for Bosnia and Herzegovina to 2000 listed it as a Category I monument.


4. Research and conservation and restoration works 

            In 1891, the metallurgist Karl Fitzinger conducted the first excavations on the site, and discovered the remains of the late antique basilica, but did not uncover it all.  The archaeological material was taken to the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo.  The findings of the excavations were published by custodian Radimski in 1892 in the Journal of the National museum and in Wissenschaftlishe Mittheilungen aus Bosnien und der Hercegovina, II Band.

            Between 13 and 24 July 1954, renewed excavations were conducted under the expert supervision of D. Sergejevski.  These excavations covered only the basilica.  Two test digs were then made south of the basilica and in the south-eastern corner of the fortifications. Inaccuracies in the original plan of the basilica were rectified and the piscina was discovered in the north room.

The movable archaeological material was housed in the National Museum in Sarajevo and the Regional Museum in Visoko.


 5. Current condition of the property

            An on site inspection in December 2003 ascertained as follows:

The site is neglected, and most of it is covered over with soil and overgrown with vegetation.  The foundations of the walls are recognizable only here and there in the narthex area.  Where the apse once stood there are now the scattered remains of the stone.



            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. v. value of details

D. Clarity

D.i. material evidence of a lesser known historical era

D. iv. evidence of a particular type, style or regional manner

E. Symbolic value

E.i. ontological value

E.ii. religious value

G. Authenticity

G.i. form and design

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

-         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:

Sergejevski, Dušan, Dabravina, Sarajevo,1956.


Pašalić, Esad, Antička naselja i komunikacije u Bosni i Hercegovini. (Antique era settlements and communications in BiH) Sarajevo, 1960.


Nikolajević, Ivanka, Oltarna pregrada u Dabravini (Altar partition in Dabravina), Collected papers of the Institute of Byzantology XII, 1970. 91-112.


Basler, Djuro, Arhitektura kasnoantičkog doba u Bosni i Hercegovini (Architecture of the late antique period in BiH) Sarajevo 1972.


Bojanovski, Ivo, Bosna i Hercegovina u Antičko doba. (BiH in the antique era) Academy of Sciences and the Arts of BiH, Works, Vol. LXVI, Sarajevo, 1988.


Paškvalin, Veljko; Miletić, Nada, Gradina, Dabravine, Vareš, Archaeological Lexicon, Vol. 3, no. 14. 86. National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo 1988,19.


Plan of the basilika in Dabravine, D.SergejevskiRemains of the basilica in Dabravine, photo from 2004Cross sections, D.SergejevskiRemains of the nartex
Reconstruction of the altar partition, Đ. BaslerParts of the bishop cathedra, parts of the benchArcheological material, parts of the wreath Archeological material - columns
Archeological material - capitels   

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