Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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Burial ground at Presjeka, the sepulchral ensemble

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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 4 to 10 May 2004 the Commission adopted a






            The sepulchral ensemble of the burial ground at Presjeka near Ustikolina is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument).

            The National Monument is located on cadastral plots no. 871, 872, 876, 877, 878/1, 878/2, 879, 880, 881, and 1853/2, proof of title 98/01, cadastral municipality Donje Žešće, Municipality Foča - Ustikolina, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

            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 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 (hereinafter: the Commission) shall determine the technical requirements and secure the funds for preparing and setting up signboard with the basic data on the monument and the Decision to proclaim the property a National Monument.




            In order to ensure permanent protection of the National Monument, the following measures are hereby stipulated in relation to the site defined in Clause I of this Decision:

Ÿ         all works on the structures or parts thereof constituting the remains of the burial ground ensemble are prohibited other than archaeological works and conservation and restoration works, 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,

Ÿ         tree-felling and the exploitation of other natural resources is prohibited, with the exception of felling required for reasons of forest health, under the expert supervision of the protection authority,

Ÿ         making good the existing forest road that cuts across the site of the National Monument dividing it into two sections,

Ÿ         the dumping of waste is prohibited.


            A protection zone of 50 m width from the boundaries of the site of the National Monument is hereby designated. All new construction works, tree-felling and exploitation of other natural resources, works on major infrastructure objects or waste disposal within the protection zone are prohibited.

            In this zone the only felling permitted is that required for forest health reasons, under the supervision of the protection service.

            The Government of the Federation shall be responsible for ensuring the financial resources for clearing the site of land mines and unexploded munitions.




            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 protection and rehabilitation thereof.




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

                                                                                                              Dubravko Lovrenović


No: 07.2-2-1056/03-4

4 May 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 a 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 properties 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 their 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 19 December 2003 the Centre for Islamic Architecture, Sarajevo, submitted a petition to designate the Turkish shahid burial ground at Presjeka 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 para. 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         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         Documentation on the location and current owner (land registry entry and proof of title)

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 are as follows:


1. Details of the property 


            Ustikolina – 43.58oN, 18,79oE

            The burial ground lies 10 km northwest from the settlement of Ustikolina, on the road from Ustikolina to the village of Jabuka. Presjeka is the name of the part of the hill that extends eastwards from the toponym Zesce to the site of Previla, parallel with theKolina river bed. There is a necropolis with stećak tombstones, as well as an Orthodox burial ground in current use, next to the site. A mediaeval basilica stands in the nearby village of Jabuka.

            The National Monument is located on cadastral plots no. 871, 872, 876, 877, 878/1, 878/2, 879, 880, 881, and 1853/2, proof of title 98/01, cadastral municipality Donje Žešće, Municipalitz Foča - Ustikolina, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Historical information

            The old burial ground at Presjeka attracted the attention of researchers at the end of the 19th century. Some of them were of the view that it might have originated as a direct result of the Ottoman advance into the area, very likely in the 14th century(1).

            The earliest references to the Presjeka burial ground were provided by M. Zarzycki(2) , with every item of information associating the burial ground directly with the origins of the Turhan Emin bey mosque in Ustikolina. He notes that when Sultan Mehmed Fatih came to the area in 1463, he appointed one Turhan Emin as inspector of the guard, who then built a mosque(3), which he attributes to that same year of 1463(4).

            An old nišan tombstone was found at the Ustikolina burial ground with an epitaph in Arabic, with part of the text missing. A facsimile, transcription and translation of the surviving part of the epitaph was first published by Mujezinović in 1954. (Mujezinović, 1954, pp 137-143)  The logic of locating events and persons used by Mujezinović led him to conclude that it was the tombstone of Turhan Emin bey. His transcription of the epitaph reads as follows:

            "The late T(urhan)...be)y, son ... Herzegovina sandzak-bey, has passed away. May the Lord forgive him and his parents and all believers their sins. Year (nine hundred and) sixty-nine" [1561/62].

            Zarzycki also refers to this tombstone, but in his case citing the year 869 AH as the year of death(5) .

            A subsequent analysis of the remaining letters on the tombstone, conducted in the 1970s at the BiH Institute for the Protection of the Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage, led to the conclusion that missing letters at the tombstone could not possibly form the name Turhan(6) . As for the deceased’s year of death, Mujezinović gives 969 AH (1561/62).

            A review of the register of the sandžak-beys of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 15th and the 16th centuries was of no help, as there was no record of any sandžak-bey named Turhan (Redžić, 1977, pp. 66-71).

            During archaeological excavations in 1977, another fragment of an old nišan tombstone was found (Redžić, 1977, pp. 66-71), with name Turhan clearly written in Arabic naskh script on a small quadrant with only few words. Archaeological excavations in 1978 failed to uncover the rest of the tombstone, so it remains debatable whether the deceased was Turhan or Turhan’s son. It was also impossible to identify the year of death accurately.  (Redžić, 1977, pp. 66-71)

            During the drafting of the study on the Presjeka burial ground, a review of document no. 2936 of Acta turcarum in the Historical Archives of Dubrovnik provided information of great importance in corroborating the nexus of facts already suggested by the archaeological excavations at Presjeka(8).  The document refers to one Turhan who acted as emin in Dubrovnik in 956 AH (1549/50). A textual analysis of the two stamps notarizing the document revealed the name of Turhan’s father, Huseyin, matching the epitaph on the tombstone discovered in Presjeka during archaeological excavations (Redžić, 1977, pp. 66-71).


2. Description of the property

            The burial ground at Presjeka consists of several groups of old nišan tombstones scattered over the site. The most important group lies alongside the intersection of the Ustikolina and Jabuka roads, while the rest are scattered through the surrounding woods and clearings. Many of the tombstones have ornaments with motifs of spears, flags, nadžak (mace), bows and arrows, sabres, and pommels, with some featuring human hands.

            There is a roughly square plateau alongside the road to the west, where there is a somewhat denser concentration of tombstones. The tombstones here are in the shape of sarcophagus, made of moulded stone blocks of miljevina stone. A piece of one of the nišan tombstones was subjected to scientific tests(9),  which established that the stone used for the tombstone was white Dolomite limestone with quartz crystallisation, which is to be found in many quarries in the Upper Drina River area, for instance Miljevina in the village of Slatina. The minaret of the Turhan Emin bey mosque in Ustikolina was made of the same stone. The plateau was probably artificially formed and surrounded on all four sides with an embankment and ditch. The ditch was formed by digging out the soil used to form the plateau inside the walls.

            The following description of the individual tombstones is taken from the sketch drawn during research works in 1977 and 1978.  

Tomb no. 1

            Tomb no.1 is located at the very centre of the necropolis and occupies a key position, along with tomb no. 2. A rough-cut stone slab 10-15 cm thick, 2.05 m long and 1,10 m wide lies over the grave. At the centre of the slab is the base of the sarcophagus, were set into grooves on the upper surface of the base. The slab is made of limestone, and the base of the sarcophagus of tufa. The base is 1.90 cm long and 78 cm wide, with a height of 20 cm. There is an opening of human proportions at the centre.

            The slab and base were broken across the middle as a result of soil subsidence. During excavations of the site, parts of the sarcophagus were found under a thin layer of topsoil close to the tomb. These finds consisted of finely-cut slabs of miljevina stone, 76 cm high and 7 cm thick. The upper and lower edges of the slabs were decorated with a moulding composed of flat and rounded bands. Five sizeable pieces of the slabs belonging to this grave were found. The slabs of the sarcophagus were joined by the iron cramps and lead. Part of the turban of the nian was found under a thin layer of soil close to the eastern side of the tomb.

Tomb no. 2

            This tomb is located a metre away from tomb no. 1, to the south. Its position, close to tomb no.1, suggests the tombs of spouses, but there are significant differences in the architectural construction of these two graves. This grave had neither cover slab nor sarcophagus.

            Massive rectangular tufa beams were set over the levelled stone grave. The pieces at the east and west end of the grave are particularly massive, with a width of 80 cm. At the centre of these are sockets to hold the nišan tombstones.  The shape of these sockets leads to the conclusion that the headstone was slab-shaped and the footstone a square-section pillar, which was not the rule (Redžić, 1984, p.190).

            Part of a nišan tombstone, 20 cm long and 13 cm wide, together with numerous broken fragments of a sarcophagus, were found at a depth of 70 cm. The piece of the tombstone bears the name Huseyin, with a barely legible letter above it that could indicate the word “ibn” or son. The month of death is incised on the other side(10). Part of a nišan tombstone in the shape of a thin slab, terminating in a three-stepped Saracen arch, was found next to this grave. This was worked in white limestone, 45 cm high and 28.5 cm wide. The fragment is 11 cm thick and is bare of anything that might indicate which grave it belonged to.

Tomb no. 3

            This stands approx. 2 metres to the west of tomb no. 1.  The two are quite similar, even displaying the same damage to the centre of the stone slabs.  The only difference is that this tomb lacks the stone slab on which the stone base of the sarcophagus stood.

            The size of this grave, too, is similar to that of grave no. 1, as are the mouldings and shapes of the sarcophagus slabs.  The structure is a box-shaped sarcophagus of moulded slabs of miljevina limestone set on a tufa base.  The lower part of a broken nišan tombstone was found at a depth of 50 cm, about 50 cm to the east of  the tomb.  The tombstone was square in section, measuring 12.5 x 12.5 cm, with the edges decorated with a rope-twist design.  It was made of white marble. A piece reminiscent of the “cap” of a woman’s nišan tombstone, terminating cylindrically with a wide top and circular neck, was found in the ground not far from this tombstone.

Tomb no. 4

            This and tombs nos. 1, 2 and 3 belong to the central group of marked graves in the necropolis.  Tomb no. 4 lies to the south of and facing tomb no. 3, and is the most monumental and best-preserved example.  The architecture of the tomb is extremely simple – large rectangles of stone up to 1.85 m in length are set in three rows stepped back by 2-3 cm towards the top.  The entire structure is 1.00 m in height, 1.85 wide at the top, and 3.30 m long, and stands on a larger base measuring 3.40 x 2.00 metres.  The workmanship of the muljika limestone blocks is rustic, without finish.  There are sockets for the nišan tombstones on the narrower sides of the stone blocks, with the socket circular at the west end and rectangular at the east end.  When the grave – which is covered with neither masonry nor a slab – was excavated, the poorly-preserved skeleton of a man with his head to the west was discovered at a depth of 1.50 metres under a layer  of clay.

Tomb no. 5

            This grave is located by the western wall of the necropolis, and was discovered by chance, after trial soundings of the ground were taken.  There were no outward signs suggesting a grave on this spot.  Excavations revealed three quite large stone slabs covered by a thick layer (15 cm) of topsoil.  The slabs, which measured roughly 1.40 (1.80) x 0.66 x 0.92 metres, and 11-16 cm thick, were not of cut stone, but were made by splitting limestone rock.  When the slabs were lifted, a tufa-built tomb was discovered under them, 1.00 m deep, 0.90 m wide and 2.00 m long, with a very well-preserved skeleton at the bottom(11), but no grave goods.  The tufa quarry-stone blocks used to construct the tomb were laid in irregular courses, roughly pointed on the inside with lime mortar.

Tomb no. 6

            This grave is located to the south of grave no. 5, and consists of a heap of displaced stone beams.  The stone base with a groove on the upper surface where the footstone nišan was mounted is still in its original position.  It is on this grave that the controversial nišan tombstone assumed to have been that of Turhan Emin bey was found, but there is no evidence to determine whether it actually belonged to the grave or not.  The tombstone was set in a socket in the stone block, but the socket is noticeably somewhat wider than the tombstone itself.  A white marble footstone was found close to this grave.  The footstone was in the shape of a slab, 7 cm thick, 28 cm wide and 58 cm high, terminating in a pointed arch. The front face bore a carved rosette with a triple hexafoil composed of concentric circles.

Tomb no. 7

            In appearance this is the most important tomb in the necropolis, also this cannot be said of its position.  As in the case of grave no. 5, there was a masonry tomb chamber below ground, of similar size and construction as that of grave no. 5.

            The tomb chamber is of quarry-stone tufa, with the walls roughly plastered and pointed with lime mortar.  A skeleton, also well-preserved,12 was found in the grave.  There were three cut stone slabs above the tomb chamber, mounted so as both to cover the grave and to form the pedestal of the structure of the tomb.  As a result, these slabs were very carefully mounted and finely cut.   Miljevina limestone blocks with a highly complex eight-tiered decoration were mounted on the slabs, joined by iron cramps sealed with lead.  Inside this framework was an infill of smaller stone slabs set in a 20 cm thick layer of lime mortar. This meant that the grave was almost hermetically sealed and at the same time formed the base for a sarcophagus.  Nothing is known of the appearance of the sarcophagus.  Stone slabs were found not far from this grave, markedly different from those of graves no. 1 and 3 in both decoration and size (8 cm thick).

Tomb no. 8

            This grave is in the south-western part of the necropolis, approx. 2 m from grave no. 7.  The foundations, which closely resemble those of grave no. 7, are all that has survived.

            This, too, is a paved tomb, with large miljevina limestone monoliths at the west and east ends, and blocks forming a surround.  Judging from the hollows in the blocks on the narrower sides of the grave, this grave had no sarcophagus.  The base in its surround was 3.20 m long and 1.40 m wide.

Tomb no. 9

            This grave is by the southern wall of the necropolis, and is a relatively modest tomb, of which only the edging stones have survived.  Its size, and in particular the width of 3 m, suggests that this was a double grave.

Tomb no. 10

            This grave is in the south-eastern part of the necropolis and is very modest, with a relatively small plot surrounded by rough-cut miljevina limestone.  The grave measures 2.00 x 1.00 m.

Tombs no. 11, 12, 13 and 14

            These graves are in the northern part of the burial ground.  They are marked only by nišan tombstones, the headstones square in section and the footstones rectangular.  All that survives is the bases of the tombstones, with sockets.  These are of tufa blocks measuring 40 x 62 x 35 cm, set so as to leave a distance of 2.06 m between the base of the headstone and that of the footstone.  The part designed for the nišan socket is 15 cm higher than the base.  There were probably several more tombstones of this type in this area.

            In 1979, a nišan tombstone was discovered in the pine forest, about 20 metres from the necropolis.  Judging from the extremely fine stonemasonry workmanship and the imposing size of the turban, this must have belonged to some outstanding figure.  The fact that it was not discovered in situ does not mean that it does not belong to the necropolis.  The upright of the surviving part of the tombstone is square in section, measuring 16 x 16 cm.  The base of the neck is decorated with moulded rhomboids, typical of 16th century tombstones of this type, but rather more pronounced in this instance.  The neck, with a circumference of 47 cm, has the usual circular moulding. The skill of the stonemason is particularly marked in the workmanship of the turban, which has a circumference of 100 cm.  The flutings of the vertical wrap and of one strongly incised fold decorated with two floral brooches are richly executed.  The vertical grooves meet at the top.  The epitaph on this fragment consists of a few works in Arabic naskh script.  The text of the epitaph is one very rarely encountered in this part of the world, though much more common in Herzegovina: We have made heaven a refuge for him.  From the appearance of the tombstone, and above all the shape of the turban, the size of the neck and the intact fields with their epitaph, the height of the inscribed part of the upright must have been at least 65 cm, and the total height above ground 1.20 m.

            Another specific feature of this necropolis is its so-called masonry tombs.  The prevailing view was that Muslims were not buried in such tombs. (13) It is impossible to provide a reliable answer to the question whether this manifestation of masonry tombs was the result of the local tradition of the Islamized population or whether, on the other hand, it was of oriental origin, until archaeological excavations of all the Ottoman burial grounds in the eastern Balkan peninsula and Asia Minor have been conducted. As far as is so far known, no such tombs have been recorded for Muslim burials.  The more realistic assumption is, therefore, that this is a perpetuation of a local tradition. (14)

            On the basis of these finds, the burial ground at Presjeka may be dated to the 16th century, though the archaeological investigations halted in the late 1980s for lack of funds will need to be continued to confirm this.


3. Legal status to date

            The site was included in the Register of BiH Institute for the Protection of Monuments, but was not categorised.


4. Research and conservation and restoration works


Ÿ         research and archaeological works on the site

Ÿ         discovery of the foundations of the boundary walls of the necropolis site


Ÿ         research and archaeological works on the site continued with excavation of graves

Ÿ         100,000 dinars invested for the purpose of conservation and repair works on the site

Ÿ         a ground plan of the necropolis was drawn up

Ÿ         arts of a sarcophagus found under a thin layer of top soil close to tomb no. 1

Ÿ         part reconstruction of tomb no. 1 carried out using four large stone slabs with minor damage (the original structure of the tomb required six such slabs). (15)  The gaps in the surround of the tomb were filled with smaller, chipped but authentic pieces of slabs no higher than 41 cm.  One small piece of the moulded lid of the sarcophagus was discovered which, judging from the socket for the headstone nišan, stood on the south-west side of the tomb, was also used further to suggest the original appearance of the tombstone (Redžic, p.198). The slabs were joined horizontally with cement, and vertically by iron cramps. The same system was used to fix the cover piece in place

Ÿ         part reconstruction of tomb no. 7.  The original appearance of the tomb was suggested by mounting three stone slabs and one smaller piece originally belonging to the lid.  These were fixed with a cement compound, with iron cramps as vertical fixings

Ÿ         tombs no. 2 and 3 were excavated

Ÿ         part of the interior of tomb no. 2 was made good by setting the base and tufa blocks in place. The interior of the tomb, which was covered with soil, was cleaned out

Ÿ         tomb no. 3 was made good, with the base and surviving pieces of the surround of the sarcophagus set in place.  Lack of funds meant that they were not joined and fixed in place

Ÿ         the plateau was levelled, and grass was sown where surplus soil had been removed

Ÿ         the outside walls of the necropolis were made good for presentation purposes.


Ÿ         a stone nišan tombstone was discovered 20 m from the wall surrounding the burial ground, supposedly belonging to Turhan Emin bey

Ÿ         a piece of the stone from which the tombstone was made was subject to scientific tests by Dr Teofil Slišković, expert in the Department of Geology of the National Museum, who identified the stone as dolomite limestone with quartz crystallization of the kind that can be found in several places in the upper Drina valley – Miljevina and the village  of Slatina.


5. Current condition of the property

            Azra Redžić described the site of the burial ground in Presjeka in 1978 as follows:

  1. the plateau was overgrown with woods,
  2. the tombstones in the necropolis were badly damaged,
  3. some of the sarcophagi and nišan tombstones were broken and covered with soil,
  4. during the last two wars, the area was regarded as of strategic importance, as a result of which troops left behind them a network of trenches and parapets, the cause of the worst damage to the site.

            In 1996, a team of experts from the BiH Institute for the Protection of the Historical and Natural Heritage, consisting of Nihad Bahtijarević and Mirzah Fočo, inspected the site at Presjeka and established as follows:

1.       the plateau was overgrown with self-sown vegetation,

2.       the stone wall around the complex was damaged in several places,

3.       the monuments in the necropolis were in very poor condition,

4.       some of the sarcophagi were broken,

5.       pieces of tombstone were scattered all around the site,

6.       during the last war, the burial ground was used for military purposes, and was criss-crossed with furrows, ploughed up, and partly mined.


            In 2004, in the process of carrying out the procedure for reaching a final decision to designate the Property as a National Monument, the following was established:

  1. the entire area of the plateau where the burial ground is located is overgrown with self-sown vegetation,
  2. the stone wall around the complex is damaged in several places. The north-western corner of the complex is the most seriously damaged; about 5.00 metres of the wall has collapsed
  3. the monuments in the necropolis are in very poor condition, but there are no signs of deliberate vandalism,
  4. some of the sarcophagi that underwent conservation and restoration works in the 1980s are broken,
  5. pieces of tombstones are scattered over the site, and some pieces with ornamentation have been collected up and piled next to the tombs without any protection,
  6. during the 1992-1995 war, the burial ground was used for military purposes. The burial ground was trenched and ploughed up. One of the nišan tombstones was used as building material when one of the trenches was dug,
  7. the burial ground has not been demined, but there are red warning signs with the word MINES. The Ustikolina Foča municipality has submitted a request for mine clearance to the Cantonal and Federation authorities, but has so far received no reply,
  8. the graves to the north-west of the centre of the necropolis are endangered by the construction of a forest road. Several tombstones have been overturned. One tombstone had a bow-and-arrow decoration. The furthermost tombstone, 200 m north-west of the necropolis, is overgrown with vegetation and could not be inspected because of the risk of landmines.
  9. given its current condition, its considerable importance, and the long period during which no protection measures have been undertaken on the site, the burial ground should be included on the List of Endangered Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina.


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

            The Decision was based on the following criteria:

A. Time frame

B. Historical value

C. Artistic and aesthetic value

C. i. quality of workmanship

C.ii. quality of materials

C.iii. proportions

C.iv. composition

C. v. value of details

C.vi. value of construction

D. Clarity

D.ii. evidence of historical change

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

D. v. evidence of a typical way of life at a specific period

E. Symbolic value

E.i. ontological value

E.ii. religious value

E.iii. traditional value

E.iv. relation to rituals or ceremonies

E.v. significance for the identity of a group of people

F. Townscape/Landscape value

F.i.  Relation to other elements of the site

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


The following documents form an integral part of this Decision:

-         Copy of cadastral plan

-         Copy of land register entry and proof of title

-         Photo-documentation

-         Site plan




1891.    Zarzycki, M., “Varošica Ustikolina”, (The small town of Ustikolina) Jnl of the National Museum III, vol. II, Sarajevo, 1891, p. 210


1936.    Sergejevski, D, “Kameni spomenici iz Rogatice i Ustikoline” (Stone Monuments of Rogatica and Ustikolina) Jnl of the National Museum, Sarajevo 1936, 3-4.,


1954.    Mujezinović, Mehmed, “Džamija na Ustikolini”, (the mosque in Ustikolina) Naše starine II, Sarajevo 1954, p. 138.,


1976.    Basler, Đuro, “Proglašenje Bosne kraljevinom 1377. godine”, (Proclaiming Bosnia a Kingdom in 1377) Institute for History, Supplements no. 11 and 12, Sarajevo 1976.


1977.    Redžić, Azra, “Staromuslimansko groblje na Presjeci kod Ustikoline, Gornje Podrinje u doba Kosača”, (the old Muslim buuial ground at Presjeka near Ustikolina, Upper Drina River Area in Kosača’s time) IV, Sarajevo 1977, pp. 66 - 71,


1977.    Mujezinović, Mehmed, Islamska epigrafika BiH, knjiga II – istočna i centralna Bosna, (Islamic Epigraphics of BiH, Book II – Eastern and Central Bosnia), PH Veselin Masleša, Sarajevo,


1977.    Mikić, Živko, “O prisustvu dinarskog i armenskog tipa na Staromuslimanskom groblju na Presjeci kod Ustikoline, Gornje Podrinje u doba Kosača”, (On the presence of Dinarid and Armenian types in the old Muslim burial ground at Presjeka near Ustikolina, Upper Drina River Area, in Kosača’s time), book IV, Sarajevo 1977,


1978.    Mikić, Živko, “O prisustvu dinarskog i armenskog tipa na Staromuslimanskom groblju na Presjeci kod Ustikoline, Gornje Podrinje u doba Kosača”, (On the presence of Dinarid and Armenian types in the old Muslim burial ground at Presjeka near Ustikolina, Upper Drina River Area, in Kosača’s time), book V, Sarajevo 1978,


1984.    Redžić, Azra, “Staromuslimansko groblje na Presjeci kod Ustikoline”, (the old Muslim burial ground at Presjeka near Ustikolina), Naše starine no. XVI – XVII, Sarajevo 1984, 187 - 199 


(1) There are many local traditions concerning the burial ground at Presjeka. One relates that this was a place where wedding guests met, fought, died, and were turned to stone. Another and more  widespread story recounts the meeting of two armies – that of Herceg (Duke) Stjepan and the Ottoman army – in a battle that was intended to bring the war to an end. The armies cut each other to pieces, giving the site its name of Presjeka (a cut). The same story tells of a strange prince in the Ottoman army, who used to carry his own wooden tombstone on his back. When he was killed, he was buried on this spot, and a tree grew out of his tombstone – a sacred beech. Another legend concerns a church that is supposed to have once stood at Presjeka, relating that the priest of the church was a member of the Herceg's army. He was also killed in the same battle, and the site Popova Luka (priest's port) to the south-west of Presjeka still recalls him. The mass grave of the sultan's adversaries was supposedly located on the north side of the road, under the group of tombstones on the west side of the complex. Until the battle, when it was renamed Presjeka, the site was known as Crkvica (little church) after the church,.

(2) Zarzycki, M, Varošica Ustikolina, Jnl of the National Museum III, vol.II, Sarajevo 1891, p.210

(3) Before the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina there was a mosque in Ustikolina, believed to be the oldest mosque in BiH, probably dating from the second half of the 15th century. It is said to be have been built by one Turhan Emin bey, a man about whom there are many legends, but not a single piece of historical evidence.

(4)  Zarzycki writes of the dating of the mosque: "There is an empty space above the mosque door, undoubtedly intended for an inscription, but never filled, which is why it has not been possible to determine from the inscription who built the mosque and when, but only from accounts by the local people of Ustikolina, who all say that the mosque was built by Turhan Emin, whose grave is at Presjeka, an hour and a half to the north of Ustikolina." He goes on to say, in the same article: "The place came to be known as Presjeka because, as the people say, it is where the Turkish army cut to pieces [the opposing forces]. Judging from the numerous graves to be seen there, it was indeed a great slaughter." (Zarzycki, 1891, p. 212)

(5)  The tombstone epitaph was apparently decipherd by an old man, Muhamed-bey Čengić, from Odžak. This is to be taken with reservations, as the old man seemed to be very eager to demonstrate the accuracy of the legend.

(6)  The rules of the Arabic language require the name to be written with a long vowel "u" after the initial consonant "T". In this case, there was a clear long vowel "a" after the "T", so the name of the deceased sandžak bey could not possibly be read as Turhan, but only as Ta..., for example Tarik, Tahir, etc.

(7)  On this occasion, only the last digit was deciphered (7), together with the first letter of the next digit, which could denote 60 or 70.

(8) The document was written in Dubrovnik on 22 October 1549 (956 AH) in Turkish ta’liq script. Turhan, acting emin in Dubrovnik, issued the document to resolve a dispute between two families. Two seals stamped on the back of the sheet certify the document as genuine. They are hard to decipher, but the first one reads: "Sulejman from Foča; ... son of Hamza", while the second reads: "Turhan emin, son of Huseyin".

(9)  Dr Teofil Slišković, expert from the National Museum, Department of Geology, conducted the tests.

(10)   Part of the year of death was incised on a complete quadrant, with only the hundreds digit, indicating the year 900 AH. The tens and ones are missing, as is obvious from the the conjunction “wa” (and) that joins the hundreds digit with the preceding digits, which is clearly visible.     

(11)   An anthropological analysis of the skull and toes, conducted by Dr Živko Mikić, established that this to the Dinarid type, with a short, high skull and high, vertical forehead. The base of the skull is short to the Dinarid type, with a short, high skull and high, vertical forehead. The base of the skull is short and flat, and the nose cavity is high, but set low. The skeleton is associated with the indigenous old Balkan population. (Mikić, 1977.)        

(12)   An anthropological analysis of the skeleton established that this was a male, aged between 40 and 50. In its anthropological characteristics the skeleton corresponds to the Armenian-Anatolian type. (The skeleton was associated with a group of Anatolians from Asia Minor). (Mikić, 1978)    

(13)   Masonry tombs in Bosnia and Herzegovina originate from ancient and early Christian times, and have been found close to Presjeka, in Ustikolina and Jabuka, next to early Christian basilicas. Both sites are at amaximum of 7 km from the necropolis. This tradition continued throughout the mediaeval period (Judge Gradješa); and masonry tombs under stećak tombstones (Zgošća, Turbe, Humsko…)     

(14)   In his work Nišani XV and XVI stoljeća u BiH (15th and 16th century tombstones in BiH), S. Bešlagić did not record a single tomb of this type (Redžić, 1984, p. 196)

(15)   Full reconstruction of the sarcophagus was not possible because so few of the original components were found.

The burial ground at Presjeka near Ustikolina The burial ground at Presjeka, tombs no. 1 till 9Tomb no. 4Tombs no. 5, 6 and 7
The burial ground at Presjeka near Ustikolina, photo from 2004Tombstone with motifs of sabres and handTombstonesNecropolis near the burial ground
Necropolis - detail of decorationTombstones - epitaphs  

BiH jezici 
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