Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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The historic monument known as the King’s Tomb in Zastinje near Jajce

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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 6 to 10 July 2004 the Commission adopted a






The historic monument known as the King’s Tomb in Zastinje near Jajce is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument).

The National Monument consists of a historic stećak monument beneath which, according to tradition, the last King of Bosnia, Stjepan Tomašević, was buried in 1463, and the movable heritage items consisting of the skeleton excavated from beneath the stećak and now in the Franciscan monastery in Jajce.

The National Monument is located on a site designated as cadastral plot no. 2680 (new survey), corresponding to c.p. no. 10207 (old survey), cadastral municipality Kozluk, title sheet no. 145, Land Registry entry no. 191, village of Zastinje, Jajce Municipality, 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 and providing the legal, scientific, technical, administrative and financial measures necessary to protect, conserve and display the National Monument.

The Government of the Federation shall be responsible for providing the resources needed to draw up and implement the necessary technical documentation for the protection 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 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 area defined in Clause 1 para. 2 of this Decision.  In this zone the following protection measures shall apply:

  • all works 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 (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 dumping of waste is prohibited.

Protection Zone II consists of a protective zone extending 50 m from the outer boundary of Protection Zone I on three sides of the monument.  A road runs along the fourth, south side of Zone I.  In this zone the following protection measures shall apply:

  • all construction or works that could have the effect of altering the site or affecting the environs are prohibited,
  • no infrastructure works shall be permitted except with the approval of the Federal ministry responsible for regional planning and the expert opinion of the heritage protection authority,
  • the dumping of waste is prohibited.



The removal of the movable heritage items specified in Clause 1 para. 3 of this Decision (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 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 the temporary removal of the movable heritage 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 items in any way.  In granting permission for the temporary removal of the movable heritage from Bosnia andHerzegovina, 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 Federal Ministry responsible for culture, 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.


No: 05.2-02-520/03-2

6 July 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 4 February 2003 Josip Nikić, an official working for Jajce Municipality, submitted a proposal/petition to designate as a national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovinathe historic monument of the King’s Tomb in which, according to tradition, the last king of Bosnia, Stjepan Tomašević, was buried in 1463.

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. Information on the property


            The site known as the King's Tomb is on Borovi plateau at an altitude of about 520 m, on the southern slope of Hum hill on the part known as Podhum.  Hum hill surrounds Jajce to the south, above Kozluk, on the right bank of the Vrbas.  Truhelka noted that from this plateau in Podhum Jajce and Carevo polje north of the town can be seen.  To the west of the plateau is a small natural barrier blocking the view of Jajce. It is on this part of the plain, right by the road, that there lies the slab ”which the people call King's Tomb. ”

            The site is reached by the macadam road from Kozluk to the village of Zastinje.  The stećak associated with this tradition lies in a meadow by the northern edge of the road.  Just opposite it, on the right hand side of the road, is another stone probably contemporary with this stećak.  

Historical details

The historical details relate to the death of the last king of Bosnia, Stjepan Tomašević, in  1463.   There is a folk tradition in Jajce and environs relating to the site of his tomb.  Truhelka, after noting that the tombstone is simple and plain, writes thus of the legend:

This tradition relates the king's death roughly as follows.  When the king saw that he was too weak to resist Sultan Mehmed Fatih, he fled with Gojak and Čubretić to Ključ, where he was betrayed to the Turks.  When he was brought before the sultan in Jajce, he was sentenced to death on the basis of a fatwa, but the sultan wanted the king to suffer not only during his lifetime but also after death, so he handed the body over to the Janissary corps, who were ordered to bury him on Hum, on a place that could always be seen from Jajce but from which Jajce itself could not be seen. 

The people of Jajce thus always had before them a reminder of the punishment that had befallen their king, but the king himself could not see the place where he had held court, even from his grave.  The site on which the king’s tomb stands corresponds exactly with this naïve definition of its position” (Truhelka 1904,12).

The king was killed between 29 May and 10 June 1463.  On 29 May the king’s uncle, Radivoj, asked the government of the Republic of Dubrovnik to send him gunpowder to Kreševo. This means that preparations were then in hand to defend Bosnia against Ottoman attack.  The first news of the king’s death reached Venice on 10 June 1463.  According to a chronicler, by 17 June 1463, Sultan Mehmed el Fatih was already in Skoplje (Truhelka, 1904., 13).

The assumption is that the Ottoman military encampment was on Carevo polje on the northern slopes above Jajce, and that Stjepan Tomašević was killed there, along with his uncle Radivoj (Truhelka, 1904, 14; Mazalić, 1952, 63).  Mazalić queries the fact that in that case the king was buried in another place, on another hill, an hour’s walk from the site of the murder.


2. Description of the property

The stećak beneath which folk tradition claims the last king of Bosnia, Stjepan Tomašević, was buried in 1463 lies at the end, or south-western angle, at the base of the site known as Borovi.  Except to the north, where the land slopes upwards, it is clear that it has been disturbed at some time in the past, as is documented in relevant sources.  The stećak is chest-shaped, measuring 160 x 92 x 50 cm.  Truhelka writes that the dimensions of the “slab” are 180 x 100 x 55 cm, which does not agree with its present size.  He says that about 35 cm of the monument is visible above ground and the remaining 20 cm is sunken into the ground (Truhelka, 1904, 12).  The upper corner to the south-east has been knocked off, as recorded when the grave beneath the stećak was excavated in 1888.  Barcsay records that it was hollowed on the under side (Barcsay, 1916, 288).  No decoration of any kind is now to be seen on it.  Truhelka initially says that the slab was merely cut out of necessity and bears no trace of ornamentation or epitaph, but also observes that on the horizontal face, “not quite in the centre, a simple cross incised 1 cm deep can be seen, probably added later” (Truhelka, 1904, 12).  Barcsay makes the same observation, with the comment that “faded symbols can be distinguished.  It is likely that a cross was incised in the stone” (Barcsay, 1916, 288).  The stećak lies west-east.

Just opposite the stećak, on the other side of a road, is what is probably part of another stećak.  It is not known if it is now lying in its primary or a secondary position, but to all appearances it has been moved here.  It is not sunken into the ground, and the rear face, by the fence along the road, is not level.  It is not mentioned in either Barcsay’s report or Truhelka’s works.  The impression it gives is that it is part of what was intended to be a chest-shaped tombstone, but not properly cut.  Its present-day dimensions are 125 x 70 x 60 cm.  The east end is step-cut, while the west is slanting and uneven.  The north, side face, facing the road and the “King’s Tomb,” is level.  The south side face is very irregular, and the lower south-west corner has been knocked off.

There is contradictory information about the excavation of the grave beneath stećak 1 as recorded by those who were present during the 1888 excavations, Ć Truhelka as researcher, G. Barcsay as district prefect charged with accompanying Truhelka and ensuring that he had everything he needed, and Mazalić’s notes on a second-hand report from Osman Kavlak, a worker on the excavation.

Ć. Truhelka writes that below a layer of black soil there was a layer of large stones at a depth of about 80 cm, with beneath this again a skeleton laid in clay.  The bones were already decomposed, and the skeleton was broken in part by the stones that had been laid over it.  The skeleton lay west-east.  The skull was separated from the body and lay to the right of the rib-cage, the deceased’s arms were crossed over his chest, and the legs were extended.  The left shinbone was broken in two places, with the broken sections 8 cm to the right.  The grave goods described by Truhelka were:

  1. by the legs, a curved iron hook “like the hasp of a padlock” or fetters;
  2. about 10 cm above the bones of the rib-cage, where the arms were crossed, two small silver Hungarian coins from “ the reign of Louis the Great” (1342-1382), left in the grave as obols (Truhelka, 1888` 23; 1904, 12).

Barcsay describes the excavators as coming upon stones in a layer of poor black soil consisting of gravel and clay, about ¾ m below the slab (which matches Truhelka's 80-88 cm), but adds that the same layer of ”black soil” was a further 1.5 m deep, and that “the skull was found only at that depth,” meaning at depth of about 2.30 m beneath the slab.  The remainder of his report agrees with Truhelka's description.

            As regards the finds, Barcsay provides the information that the silver coins were found beneath the skull, with an iron ring beside them.  He says that Truhelka took the coins to Sarajevo, and makes no further reference to the ring (Barcsay, 1916, 19).

            Mazalić quotes a personal statement by Hajrudin Kršlak to the effect that Osman Karavlak, who as a 26-year-old workman took part in the excavation of the tomb in 1888, as referring to the discovery of the ring “which Truhelka set aside” (Mazalić, 1952, 63, n. 17). 

            Truhelka omits the discovery of the iron ring in both his works, that of 1888 and that of 1904, and nothing further is known of its appearance or size, or of what happened to it.         

            In his 1888 report, Truhelka concludes that the nature of the finds and the skeleton of a sturdy mature adult male correspond with the fate of King Stjepan Tomašević and the manner of his death, and confirms the tomb as his (Truhelka 1888, 23-24).  However, in the work he wrote 16 years later, Truhelka notes that “the body of a man who had been tortured and hacked to death, and who was buried in the period following the reign of Louis the Great, while his coinage was still in circulation in Bosnia,” and continues: “There is no direct evidence to be found in this observations that this is the tomb of Stjepan Tomašević.  The only evidence is that of the tradition, and we shall ascertain and demonstrate the tradition that the king was executed, and thus also buried, in Jajce, in a subsequent exposition” (Truhelka, 1904, 13).

            Thallóczy notes that: “The account of the authentic tomb and body of Stjepan Tomašević discussed by Truhelka, o.c. 11-14 [relating to the 1904 publication] is also of interest.  Truhelka sought the body on the site that tradition regards as the burial place, known to the local people as the King’s Tomb.  Based on these excavations, Truhelka noted only that the grave referred to by local tradition contained the skeleton of a man who had been decapited, dating from the time when the coinage of King Louis the Great was still in circulation.  The Bosnian Franciscans, as guardians of Bosnian traditions, did well to bury the skeleton in their church” (Thallóczy, 1916, 69, n.1). 

            Perojević, drawing on Truhelka's 1904 work, concluded: “It was thus very likely that these were the bones of King Stjepan Tomašević.  The discovery agrees with folk tradition,” and repeats Thallóczy's views on the Franciscans' having preserved the bones (Perojević, 1991, 574, n. 54).

            An inspection of the inventory of the numismatic collection of the Department of Archaeology of the National Museum of BiH in Sarajevo revealed that the two coins referred to are not listed.  Nor is anything known of the fate of the other two finds in the grave, the iron ring and the fetter.


3. Legal status to date

No legal protection has been effected.


4. Research and conservation and restoration works 

            On 7-8 June 1888, Ć. Truhelka investigated the tomb, noting that: “This tradition was the occasion for the 'King's Tomb' to be searched in 1888.  This I did... ” (Truhelka, 1904, 12).  The skeleton was taken from the grave, reassembled as far as possible, and laid in a glass casket in the monastery church in Jajce (Truhelka, 1904, 13).

            A piece by “Anonimus” in the Journal of the National Museum, 1889, 94, reports that it was ”on the basis of tradition and historical information that Truhelka excavated the king's skeleton on 8 June 1888, transferring it to Sarajevo and carefully reassembling it.   Readers were informed that the skeleton would be laid in a crystal sarcophagus and transferred to the parish church in Jajce.  The epitaph on the pedestal beneath the sarcophagus reads:

Stjepan Tomašević, King of Bosnia by the grace of God. Reigned from 1461 to 1463. His bones were exhumed from the King's Tomb on 8 June 1888.

Truhelka was accompanied by Géza Barcsay, district prefect in Jajce, who sent a report dated 11 June 1888 to Hugon Kutscher, civil adultus for Bosnia and Herzegovina, in which he notes that he provided assistance to Ć. Truhelka, with whom he attended the excavation on 7 and 8 June 1888 of the ”so-called King's Tomb” (Barcsay, 21).

During the 1992-1995 war the Franciscan monastery was abandoned and the casket containing the bones was moved to Split.  Conservation of the skeleton was carried out in the Croatian Conservation Institute in Split.

The bones were formally transferred back to Jajce on 13 September 1997, and are now in the Franciscan monastery.


5. Current condition of the property

            Two isolated stećak tombstones stand on either side of the local macadam road close to a crossroads.  Stećak 1 (the king's tomb) is on the edge of the meadow right by the road, and the other appears to have been moved to alongside the hedge.  Should any roadworks be carried out, the monuments would be at risk. The site is not abandoned, but appears anonymous and mute.

            The bones are housed in the Franciscan monastery in Jajce, in a glass casket.



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

D. Clarity

D.ii. evidence of historical change

E. Symbolic value

E.iii. traditional value

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

G. Authenticity

G.vi. spirit and feeling

G.vii. other internal and external factors


            The following documents form an integral part of this Decision:

o        Copy of cadastral plan

o        Photodocumentation;

o        Drawings        



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


1888.    Truhelka, Ćiro, Bericht über die Nachforschungen am Königsgrabe in Jajce. (Separat-Abdruck aus der “Bosnischen Post”. Gedruckt als Manuscript.) Sarajevo, 1888.


1904.    Truhelka, Ćiro, Kraljevski grad Jajce (The royal town of Jajce) Sarajevo, 1904.


1916.    Thallóczy, Ljudevit, Povijest (banovine, grada i  varoši) Jajca (History of the banate, fort and town of Jajce) Royal Croatian Slav Dalmatian Government, , Zagreb, 1916.


1916.    Barcsay, Géza, Pismo Géze Barcsaya, kotarskog predstojnika u Jajcu, upravljeno dne 11. juna 1888. na Hugona Kutscheru, bosansko-hercegovačkog civilnog adultusa, u predmetu iskopavanja lješine kralja Stjepana Tomaševića. (Letter from Géza Barcsay, district prefect in Jajce, written on 11 June 1888 to Hugon Kutscher, civil adultus of BiH, on the subject of the exhumation of the body of King Stjepan Tomašević). In: Thallóczy, Ljudevit, Povijest (banovine, grada i  varoši) Jajca. Royal Croatian Slav Dalmatian Government, Zagreb. 1916, 288-289.


1952.    Mazalić, Đoko, Stari grad Jajce (Jajce old fort). Jnl of the National Museum in Sarajevo, n.s.  Vol VII, Sarajevo, 1952, 59-100


1964.    Ćirković, Sima, Istorija srednjovjekovne bosanske države (History of the mediaeval Bosnian state), Belgrade, 1964


1991.    Perojević, Marko, Stjepan Tomašević. In: Povijest Bosne i Hercegovine od najstarijih vremena do godine 1463. (History of BiH from ancient times to 1463) bk I. HKD Napredak, 2nd ed., Sarajevo, 1991, 555-592. 






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