Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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Remains of a Roman settlement and a mediaeval necropolis with stećak tombstones in Vranjevo Selo, the archaeological site

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Status of monument -> National monument

Pursuant to Article V, Paragraph 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 4 to 10 March 2004 the Commission adopted a






The Archaeological site with the remains of a Roman settlement and a mediaeval necropolis with stećak tombstones in Vranjevo Selo nr. Neum is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument).

The National Monument consists of an archaeological site with the remains of a Roman settlement and a necropolis with stećak in Vranjevo Selo, together with movable heritage items found at the archaeological site and now housed in the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo as registered in the inventory of the Museum’s holdings.

The National Monument is located on a site designated as cadastral plots nos. 15, 16, 17, 18, 21, 22, 23, 27, and 28, cadastral municipalit    Municipality Neum, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, 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 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 shall be duty bound to ensure and provide 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.




In order to ensure the on-going protection of the National Monument the following measures are hereby stipulated:

Protection Zone I consists of the archaeological site, the area defined in Clause 2 para. I of this Decision.  In this zone the following protection measures shall apply:

  • all works are prohibited other than research and conservation and restoration works, including those designed to display the monument, with the approval of the Federal Ministry responsible for regional planning (hereinafter: the relevant ministry) and under the expert supervision of the heritage protection authority (hereinafter: the heritage protection authority),
  • the zone is an archaeological site, and in consequence no re-location of the stećak tombstones or excavation of graves is permitted,
  • the site of the monument area shall be open and accessible to public and may be used for educational and cultural purposes,
  • the dumping of waste is prohibited.

The Government of the Federation shall be required in particular to ensure the implementation of the following measures:

  • investigation of the causes of damage and the possibility of making good the stećak tombstones;
  • tidying the site and clearing it of self-sown vegetation;
  • providing access to the site, making good the access road and paths to all the parts of the site;
  • restoring displaced and overturned tombstones to their original position, wherever possible;
  • repairing cracked and broken tombstones, whereever possible;
  • conducting a systematic survey of the remains dating from the Roman period;
  • conservation of the remains so discovered;
  • drafting and implementation of a programme for the presentation of the National Monument.

A protective strip with a width of 100 metres from the boundaries within which the National Monument is located is hereby stipulated.  In this strip:

  • all construction or other works that could have the effect of altering the site or the landscape are prohibited;
  • infrastructural works shall be permitted only with the approval of the relevant Ministry and with expert opinion of the heritage preservation authority;
  • the dumping of waste is prohibited.



The removal of the movable heritage items specified in Clause 1 para. 2 of this Decision (hereinafter: the movable heritage) 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 movable heritage 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 heritage in any way. 

In granting permission for their temporary removal, 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 protection thereof.




The Government of the Federation, the relevant ministry, the 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.


No: 05.1-2-1074/04-5

7 May 2004



Chair of the Commission

Dubravko Lovrenović


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 9 April 2004 the Commission received a proposal/petition from Margita Gavrilović, advisor to the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo, to designate the archaeological site with the remains of a Roman settlement and a mediaeval necropolis with stećak tombstones in Vranjevo Selo nr. Neum 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 if any, data on restoration or other works on the property if any, 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 property are as follows:


1. Details of the property


Vranjevo Selo is located about two kilometres to the east of Neum. The archaeological site is located below the southern slope of Žrnovo hill, to the west of the village.

Historical information

In Neum and its environs, no major archaeological surveys pertaining to the archaeology of antiquity were carried out until 1984. All that was known about Roman civilisation before that was based on archaeological reconnaissance and chance finds. Thus in Vranjevo Selo two fragments of sepulchral monuments were found – a stela and two bronze clasps. One stela with inscription belongs to M. Ulpius Severus. (Ć. Truhelka, 1892, p. 362), and another was built-in to the masonry of a retaining wall of a house at the entrance to Neum, where traces of a funerary formula, D(is) M(anibus), can be seen. Finds of PANSIANA building bricks date this settlement to the 1st century C.E., while the stelae indicate continuity lasting until the 4th century.

Archaeological research in 1984 and 1985 confirmed that in the 1st century C.E. there was a significant Roman settlement that would remain in existence until the 6th century in the village called Vranjevo Selo, close to the Adriatic sea and Neum bay.  The settlement was located alongside the road that led to the ancient town of Diluntum (Stolac) and joined the Narona-Epidaurum or Narona-Leusinium roads.  The name of this settlement is unknown.

In the mediaeval period, the area belonged to the Žaba Župa (county) that consisted of the eponymous mountain and its foothills. Vranjevo or Vranjevo Selo was an important political centre of the Župa and the seat of the most distinguished patrician family, the Nikolićs. In the 14th century they were the rulers of feudal areas, and the sole protagonists of political and cultural activities in the Žaba Župa and members of Bosnian ruling circle (barones regni).

According to Orbinio, the Nikolićs were direct descendants of the 13th century Prince of Hum Andrija (1217 – 1249), who was buried in St. Mary’s Church in Ston (M. Orbini, Kraljevstvo Slovena, Beograd 1968, p. 168). Archival records and the epitaphs on the stećak tombstones in Vranjevo Selo testify that these were the graves of: Prince Vladislav, his mother Katarina (Katalina), who was the wife of Župan (Lord of the County) Nikola, and the sister of Bosnian Ban (Governor) Stjepan II Kotromanić and Prince Petar Nikolić, the son of Prince Vladislav. In written sources housed in the Archives of Dubrovnik, Prince Vladislav was first mentioned in 1344, then in 1347 and finally in 1363 for the last time.

Petar Nikolić was first referred to in 1380, alongside his brothers Vukoslav and Miliša. Their influence had grown considerably after the death of King Tvrtko I in 1391. By the end of 1392, the Nikolić brothers and their mother Stanislava were accepted by Dubrovnik as their citizens. The next year, King Dabiša transferred to them the right to the revenue of the Margarisium of Hum – the revenue that Dubrovnik was bound to pay every year to the rulers of its hinterland. By the beginning of the 15th century, the Nikolić brothers were the feudal rulers of the župas of Žaba and Popovo and by mid-century they counted among Stjepan Vukčić-Kosača’s squires. Their descendents, of whom the most distinguished was the grandson of Prince Vukoslav, most probably did not survive the end of the war that broke out by mid-15th century between Herceg Stjepan and the City of Dubrovnik. The Nikolićs were not mentioned among the Herceg’s squires who entered into a peace treaty with Dubrovnik. (T. Glavaš, 1989, p.156)


2. Description of the Site

Roman remains: Test digs conducted in 1984 revealed that in the north-east part of the archaeological site, in an area where there is a large mound of stones and below the mound itself it, there were the archaeological remains of an edifice dating form the Roman period. The edifice had an earlier and a later stage. The remains of antique architecture extend to the north and west from the mound of stones and are partly covered by the stećak tombstones of Necropolis I.

Excavation on another part of the site, between the old road and the stećak tombstones of Necropolis II, revealed a late antique gabled tomb was found, built of roof and flooring bricks. Alongside this grave a longitudinal dry stone wall was also found. The type of grave indicates that the settlement was in existence at least until the 6th century. In later research two more graves with gabled roofs were excavated, these dating from the 5th and the 6th centuries and containing no grave goods. Two parallel walls that probably belong to the same edifice were also found as well as a stone pillar with the figure of a cross. The thickness and type of masonry of these walls suggest that this was not a separate sacral complex but rather that there was a separate oratory forming an integral part of a secular edifice (V. Paškvalin, 1986, p. 88).    

Necropolis with stećak tombstones (I and II). The mediaeval necropolis now consists of two groups with a total of 66 stećak tombstones. One group is situated below Žrnovo hill and the other, larger one is alongside the road. The orientation of the stećak tombstones is impossible to determine precisely.

It is not certain whether the necropolis has always been divided into two parts. A number of the stećak tombstones broken, overturned or built into the nearby wall and road, suggesting that the necropolis was ravaged in the past when there would certainly have been a larger number of stećak tombstones. The similarity in the workmanship and shape of the stećak tombstones in both groups dates both to approximately the same period, i.e. the second half of the 14th and  the 15th centuries.

A small group of the stećak tombstones (I) is known as the Princes Nikolić Necropolis. Of the total of 29 stećak tombstones, 15 are decorated and three have epitaphs.

Stećak no. 1 is chest-shaped (measuring 1.52 x 0.76 x 0.70 m) with its the south-east and north-west parts broken. The upper surface is decorated with a square shield and sword, with the shield is divided by a diagonal bar. In the upper half of the shield there is a crescent moon and, in the lower, an eight-lobed rosette.

Stećak no. 2 is chest-shaped (measuring 2.00 x 1.10 x 0.35 m), decorated with a border with a herringbone design on the upper surface. On the west side of the surface is a cross combined with a crescent moon tipped with rosettes.

Stećak no. 3 is chest-shaped (measuring 1.68 x 1.18 x 0.46 m), damaged on the west side. On the upper surface is a shield with a hand, a sword and a quadrifoil rosette.

Stećak no. 4 is chest-shaped (measuring 1.18 Xc0.38 m); it is sunk and its height cannot therefore be determined. The upper surface is decorated with a shield with a quadrifoil rosette in the lower corner.

Stećak no. 5 has no decoration.

            Stećak no. 6 is broken into 13 pieces(1). It was chest-shaped, with the epitaph on the sides. Parts of the epitaph were found on four of the fragments. The appearance and the technique of workmanship in some of the lettering indicate considerable skill on the part of the craftsmen – the stone-mason and the scribe -  revealed in the way some of the letters are decorated. The content of the epitaph relates to Katarina (Katalina) Nikolić, who died by the end of the first half or the beginning of the second half of the 14th century.

Complete transcription: Here lies the lady Katalina (Katarina), with her husband, Župan Nikola who was in the service of Kotromanić, his father-in-law and the glorious Ban Stjepan. This (stone) was laid on her by Vladislav (her son) and his brother Bogiša... (M. Vego, 1962, p. 45).

Stećak no. 7. is chest-shaped (measuring 2.12 x 1.07 x 1.00 m), laid above the grave of Vladislav Nikolić. He died in the first half of the 14th century (A. Benac, Anali Hist. Inst. JAZU, Dubrovnik 1953, pp. 68-69). The inscription was carved by master Pomočan:


Complete transcription: Here lies Prince Vladislav, the son of Župan Nikola, nephew of Ban Stjepan, on his noble land (patrimony). This was inscribed by Pomočan. (M. Vego, 1962, p. 43).

Stećak no. 8 is chest-shaped (measuring 2.40 x 1.30 x 0.37 m) with an epitaph and a heraldic composition in the western part of the upper surface. The composition is made of shields, banners and eagles with half spread wings, representing the coat-of-arms of the Nikolić family(2). The epitaph is carved in 3 lines in a 41 x 15 cm panel hollowed out for the purposes on the surface. This is the grave of Petar Nikolić, the son of Prince Vladislav. Petar died between November 1396 and June 1397. The epitaph reads:


Transcription: Here lies Prince Petar, son of Prince Vladislav.

Stećaks nos. 9, 10, and 11 are chest-shaped, without decoration.

Stećak no. 12 is chest-shaped (measuring 2.16 x 1.19 x 0.34 m) with a decorated upper surface with a design of a carved trefoil vine and a rosette.

Stećak no. 13 is chest- or slab-shaped, sunk into the ground, and without decoration.

Stećak no. 14 is chest- or slab-shaped (measuring 1.98 x 0.90 m), sunk into the ground, decorated with a rosette, crescent moon, a stylised fleur-de-lis and a twisted band.

Stećak no. 15 is chest-shaped (measuring 1,98 x0,90 x0,40 m), whose upper surface is framed by a twisted band.

Stećak no. 16 is chest-shaped (measuring 2,20 x 0,95 x 0.60 m) decorated on all sides. The upper surface is framed by twisted band, with a square shield and a sword in the middle. In the upper right corner of the shield is a crescent moon, and in the lower left corner, a six-lobed rosette. Below this composition is a bow and an arrow. The west surface, now very much damaged, is framed by a twisted band and decorated with two birds with wings folded. The north surface features a kolo (round dance) with six female and six male figures. The east surface features a man leading a saddled horse with rider. Both men have swords hanging from their belts, and the horseman is wearing an unusual cap on his head.

Stećak no. 17 is chest- or slab-shaped (measuring 1.68 x 0.80 m), sunk in the ground, with a decorated upper surface. The decoration consists of a shield, a sword and  crescent moon.

Stećak  nos. 18, 19, and 20 are slabs, without decoration.

Stećak no. 21 is chest-shaped (measuring 1.79 x 1.05 x 0.40 m) with a border on the upper surface, consisting of a twisted band to the east and a zigzag line to the west and south of the surface. There is a rosette in the centre.

Stećak no. 22 is chest-shaped (measuring 1.72 x 0.80 x 0.35 m), decorated with a twisted band on the upper surface.

Stećak no. 23 is chest-shaped (measuring 1.88 x 0.98 x 0.40m), decorated with a simple band on the upper surface.

Stećak no. 24 is slab- or chest-shaped, sunk into the ground and without decoration.

Stećak no. 25 is slab- or chest-shaped, sunk in the ground, decorated with a twisted band along the edges of the upper surface.

Stećak no. 26 is ridge-shaped (gabled) with plinth (measuring 1.10 x 0.76 x 0.67m), above a child’s grave, lying north-south.

Stećak no. 27 is ridge-shaped (gabled) with plinth (measuring 0.67 x 0.81 x 0.67m), above a child’s grave, lying north-south. The plinth is damaged.

Stećak no. 28 is chest-shaped (measuring 1.56 x 0.71 x 0.36 m) without decoration.

Stećak no. 29 is ridge-shaped (gabled) with plinth (measuring 1.63 x 1.00 x 0.90m), lying north-south.


Necropolis II with stećak tombstones is now a group of 37 stećak tombstones at the southern side of the site. They are mainly slab- and chest-shaped. One of the slab-shaped stećaks bears a carved rosette on the upper surface. No decoration has been observed on the remaining stećak tombstones. 


3. Legal status to date

According to the data of the Institute for Protection of Monuments within the Federation of BiH Ministry of Culture and Sport, the archaeological site of the remains of a Roman settlement and necropolis with stećak tombstones in Vranjevo Selo is not registered as a cultural monument.

The property is not on the Provisional List of National Monuments of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments; rather, this Decision is adopted on the basis of the petition referred to above.

The Regional Plan for BIH to 2000 lists the property as a Category III monument.


4.  Research and conservation and restoration works

In 1956, under the surveillance of the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina and with the assistance of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of the Peoples’ Republic of BiH, a survey of the necropolis with stećak tombstones was conducted.

In 1984 and in 1985, test archaeological digs were carried out as part of a projecyt entitled “Main Characteristics of the Cultural and Historical Development of Eastern Herzegovina in the Prehistoric and Early Historical Periods” carried out under the supervision of Dr. V. Paškvalin and T. Glavaš. A systematic survey was planned for 1986 but, unfortunately, has not yet been carried out.

The movable archaeological artifacts are housed in the premises of the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina.


5. Current condition of the property

An on-site inspection done in March 2004 resulted in the following findings:

There is no access road or path to Necropolis I. The only possible access is through the surrounding plots where agricultural work is carried out. The plots are surrounded by tall shrubs. The entire are is overgrown with tall self-sown vegetation. Some parts of the necropolis are completely inaccessible.

The geodetic survey carried out in February 2004 revealed that there are now far fewer stećak tombstones (66) in the necropolis than in 1985, when 152 stećaks were recorded. (T. Glavaš, 1989, p. 143). 86 stećak tombstones are now missing.




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. vomposition        

C.v. value of details

D. Clarity (documentary, scientific and educational value)

D. i. evidence of historical change

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

-    Photo documentation;

-    Drawings



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


1892    Dr. Truhelka Ćiro, Prilozi rimskoj arheologiji Bosne i Hercegovine (Contributions to the Roman archaeology of BiH) Jnl. of the National Museum, Sarajevo IV, 1892, p. 362.


1960    Vego Marko, Zbornik srednjovjekovnih natpisa Bosne i Hercegovine (Collected mediaeval inscriptions/epitaphs of Bosnia and Herzegovina) Bk. I, National Museum - Sarajevo, Sarajevo 1962 , pp. 42 – 45.


1961    Vego Marko, Novi i revidirani natpisi iz Hercegovine (New and revised inscriptions/epitapha of Herzegovina) Jnl. of the National Museum, Sarajevo XV-XVI, 1960-1961, pp. 259-286.


1976    Dr. Mihić Ljubo, Čapljina centri za rekreaciju i kulturnoistorijski spomenici (Čapljina recreation centres and cultural and historical monuments) Čapljina 1976


1985    Paškvalin Veljko, Crkvina / Vranjevo Selo, Arheološki pregled (Archaeological Overview), Ljubljana 1986, 87 – 88.


1989    Glavaš Tihomir, Nekropola knezova Nikolića u Vranjevu selu kod Neum (Necropolis of the Nikolić princes in Vranjevo selo near Neum), Jnl. of the National Museum, new series, vols. 42/43, 1987/1988,  pp. 143 -164.


(1) This stećak was broken (mined) and the pieces were thrown into the grave by those who intended to plunder the grave. (M. Vego, 1961, p. 269)

(2) Fragments of this coat-of-arms have been preserved on the seal of Mrs. Stanislava Nikolić, on a letter of credit dated October 1393 as well as on the hanging seal of Prince Grgur Vukosalić Nikolić, on a charter submitted to Dubrovnik, 16 July 1418. (P. Anđelić, Srednjevjekovni pečati iz Bosne i Hercegovine, Sarajevo, 1970, pp. 30-33.).

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