Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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60th session - Decisions

Debelo Brdo, prehistoric defensive settlement, ancient and late ancient defence facility, the archaeological area

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Status of monument -> National monument

Pursuant to Article V, paragraph 4 of Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Article 39, paragraph 1 of the Rules of Procedure of the Commission to Preserve National monuments, at the session held from 3 to 9 January 2005 the Commission adopted a






The Archaeological site of Debelo Brdo, a prehistoric hillfort settlement, antique and late antique defence structure in Sarajevo, Municipalities Novo Sarajevo and Centre, is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument). 

            The National Monuments consists of the the archaeological site of a prehistoric hillfort settlement, antique and late antique defence structure, on the topmost plateau of Debelo Brdo with movable archaeological material housed in the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo, where it is listed in the Museum’s inventory books of finds.

The National Monument is located on a site designated as cadastral plot no. 2974/1, 2986/4, 2986/5 and 2986/3 (new  survey), corresponding to cadastral plot no. 278/158 and 278/159 (old survey), land register entry no. 2093; and cadastral plot no. 278/38 and 278/1 (old survey), land register entry no. 249, cadastral municipality, Dolac, Novo Sarajevo Municipality, 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 in accordance with Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina (“Official Gazette of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina”, no. 2/02, 27/02 and 6/04).




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 and present 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 protection zones are hereby stipulated:

Protection Zone I consists of the area defined in Clause 1 para. 3 of this Decision. 

The following protection measures shall apply in this zone:

  • all works are prohibited other than research and conservation and restoration works, including those works 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,
  • the site shall be cleared of vegetation,
  • preparatory archaeological works shall be carried out,
  • the access road to the site shall be made good.




The removal of the archaeological material referred to 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 temporary removal 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 the temporary removal of the movable heritage from Bosnia and Herzegovina, 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 provision of this Decision are hereby revoked.




Everyone, and in particular the competent authorities of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canton, City and municipal authorities, shall refrain from any action that might damage the National Monument or jeopardise its preservation.




The Government of the Federation, the Federal Ministry responsible for regional planning, 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 competent municipal court shall be notified for the purpose of registration in the Land Registry.




The elucidation and accompanying documentation form an integral part of this decision, which may be viewed by interested parties at the premises or by accessing the website of the Commission (http://www.aneks8komisija.com.ba).




Pursuant to Article V, paragraph 4 of the 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. 05.2-02-806/03-12

4 May 2005


Chair of the Commission

Amra Hadžimuhamedović


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 in accordance with 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 as well as properties entered on the Provisional List of National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Official Gazette of BiH no. 33/02) until the Commission makes a final decision on their status, as to which there in no time limit and regardless of whether a request for the property in question has been submitted.

            Mr. Borislav Spasojevic, graduate civil engineer from Sarajevo, submitted to the Commission a petition/proposal to designate the immovable property of the Archaeological site of Debelo Brdo, prehistoric hillfort settlement, antique and late antique defence structure in Sarajevo as a National Monument.

Pursuant to the provisions of the Law, and in accordance with Article V, paragraph 4 of Annex 8 and Article 35 of the Rules of Procedure of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments, the Commission proceeded to carry out procedure for reaching the final decision to designate the property as a National Monument.




            In the procedure preceding the adoption of the final decision to proclaim the 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 register entry,
  • data on the current condition and use of the property, including a description and photographs, data on war damage if any, data on restoration or other works on the property if any, etc,
  • current condition of the property,
  • historical, architectural and other documentary material on the property.


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 archaeological site of Debelo brdo, a prehistoric hillfort settlement, antique and late antique defence structure, municipalities Novo Sarajevo and Centre in Sarajevo, is located on the western, detached slopes of Mt. Trebević, which extends about 170 m along the Miljacka valley, at an altitude of 746m. 


Historical information

There is no historical information in writing. People lived on Debelo Brdo from the Eneolithic, 2000/1700 BCE, through the Bronze Age, early and late Iron Age, and then throughout the whole of antiquity and late antiquity until the end of the 6th century CE.

One of the most important prehistoric Bronze Age settlements (1800-1300 BCE) in the central regions of the northwest Balkans was in Debelo Brdo. It was in the sight-line of hillforts on the hillsides surrounding the Miljacka valley, as well as with the hillfort in Gradac at Ilinjaca in Gornji Kotorac, on the outskirts of the Sarajevo plain.

During antiquity and late antiquity, fortifications were erected on Debelo Brdo, as well as in Ilinjaca, to protect neighbouring civilian settlements in the valley,. The fortifications on Debelo Brdo protected the antique-era settlement which extended along the Miljacka valley from the crossroads by the Alipasha mosque to the east to the campus (former Tito barracks) to the west. At the same time, the fortifications in Gradac at Ilinjaca protected the antique-era settlement in Ilidža.


2. Description of the property

            The discoveries at Debelo Brdo are evidence of continuous settlement of this hillfort, a defensive position.  As well as the length of time during which it was inhabited (about 2600 years), soil erosion and the nature of the site itself mean that there is much movable archaeological material as evidence of settlement in the prehistoric, antique and late antique eras, whereas the remains of the defences are only partial.

Prehistoric period

            The hillfort position of Debelo Brdo was a central defensive point and a refuge for the surrounding population, which had initially settled in Zlatiste and Soukbunaru, and later probably on Debelo Brdo as well. 

The oldest pottery finds on Debelo Brdo belong to the late Neolithic, when, after incursions by new Eneolithic populations, a small group of the Neolithic population moved back to the hillfort position (in the 3rd century BCE). 

The second stratum originates from the later stage of the Vučedol culture of the Eneolithic period, dating from 2000-1800 (1700) BCE. Most of the artifacts are examples of typical Vučedol pottery, moulds to make various metal artifacts, needles, awls, foliate daggers, axes and parts of the pipes for blow-pipes (Čović, 1976, 107-110).

            The third cultural stratum originates from the early Bronze Age (according to the chronological chart for Central Europe, from 1800-1600/1500 BCE, and according to more recent C14 analyses, from 2200/2100 - 1800/1700 BCE). At that  time Debelo Brdo, along with neighbouring site in Soukbunar and Zlatište, composed a single complex of settlements, and at the same time became one of the most significant deposits. There are no reliable data on which parts were inhabited, or whether it was densely settled like the sites of the same period in Varvara near Prozor and in Pod near Bugojno. Nor is anything known about the type of houses. The reason lies in the condition of the strata at the site: the artifacts had been washed out and were largely discovered on the slopes of Debelo Brdo in secondary positions, though some were excavated in 1889 -1896. Although the settlement on Debelo Brdo was for defensive purposes, it had no fortifications built of durable materiala. Leaders of the culture of the south Bosnian group used to live in what is known as a geographical and cultural transition zone. In the early Bronze Age, a wave of new population, which either expelled or assimilated the indigenous inhabitants, the Eneolithic populations, overran the area of the transition zone (Čović, 1983, 183). In this zone, which covers the upper courses of the rivers Neretva, Bosna and Vrbas, there are artifacts that in certain features may be associated with artifacts discovered along the eastern Adriatic shore and its hinterland, as well as with artifacts from the area along river Danube and central Balkans (Čović, 1983, 172-173). On Debelo Brdo, artifacts common or similar to those from the Glasinac tumulus are also to be found (Čović, 1983, 179).

            During the middle Bronze Age, which according to the central European chronological table, lasted from 1600/1500-1400 BCE, the long and slow process of migrations of smaller ethnic groups, as well as their adaptation to new living conditions, came to an end in the Western Balkans. This is reflected in the gradual formation of an autochthonous cultural component in spite of influences from the Danube valley and the Adriatic region. This is particularly noticeable in the forms and evolution of various types of settlement pottery.

            Debelo Brdo, along with Zlatište and Soukbunar, is one of the most important deposits of the late Bronze Age (1400-1300/1100 BCE). The immediate environs of Sarajevo still belonged to the transition zone, the territory of which was reduced at this time to northern Herzegovina and southern Bosnia. The settlement on Debelo Brdo is still one of the largest hillfort settlements, extending over several hundred metres, covering several plateaus and slopes, and two hills (Debelo Brdo and Zlatište). The settlement complex, apart from the Grad plateau of Zlatište and the plateau on Debelo Brdo, where there were hillforts, took in the plateau beneath the steep cliffs at Soukbunar, as well as the plateaus and small valleys between Debelo Brdo and Zlatište. This was a settlement with smaller fortified areas and open settlements below and around them. The settlement presumably was organised as in previous periods of the Bronze Age, i.e. the settlements were composed of smaller groups. Tools and weapons included kelts (hollow axes), bronze spears, short swords or daggers, and the moulds to make these weapons. At the same time, the settlement at Debelo Brdo was a stable and long-lived artisanal and manufacturing centre, and gives the impression of having been a stable and solidly organised social community. Here, artifacts of a Central Bosnian cultural group appeared, as imports or influence.  Cultural groups of the late Bronze Age are defined as independent cultural-ethnic communities with distinct features of a tangible and spiritual culture (Čović, 1983a, 434). In addition, imports from Italy are to be found among the artifacts from Debelo Brdo (axes with fan-shaped blade). The finds from Debelo Brdo, as well as from other hillforts in the Sarajevo basin (Fortica at Bakije, Obhodža, Gradac at Ilinjača in Gornji Kotorac) also display artifacts of an entirely differen type, not present in the Central Bosnian group, which are similar to the artifacts from the Glasinac area (Čović, 1983a, 406).

            As regards the early Iron Age, from 900-300 BCE, judging by the pottery materials at Debelo Brdo and Varvara at Prozor, it was deduced that links and contacts between the tribes that lived along the central reaches of the river Bosna and the upper course of the Vrbas river (central Bosnian cultural group) and those that lived more to the south, in the upper reaches of the Bosna, were intensive and lasting. However, the tribes from the central Bosnian cultural group were probably superior (Čović, 1987, 524-525). The discoveries from that period at Debelo Brdo are numerous. The settlement in Soukbunar was established at the end of this period. 

Many movable finds have been discovered on the northern slopes of Debelo Brdo, originating from almost all historical periods from the Eneolithic to La Tène.

            Numerous pottery shards, 119 complete vessels, over 590 loom whorls, pyramidal weights for looms and fishing nets have been found. Among the numerous horn or bone artifacts, mostly of roe and stag horn, there are remarkable items such as various pointed leather punches, jewellery, pendants, scrapers and combs. Metal artifacts consist of tools and weapons, as well as jewellery. Stone artifacts include whetstones, grindstones, and pendants similar to those in military graves in Glasinac (Hallstatt), while obsidian knives, particularly in the early Iron Age (Hallstatt) were probably imported. 


Antiquity and late antiquity

            Since movable archaeological material from antiquity and late antiquity was mostly discovered in a surviving thin stratum inside the fort and in towers A and B, there was presumably a minor Roman fortification here from the 1st to the 4th centuries, but that the fortifications the remains of which were discovered in 1893 were built sometime after 535, when these areas were again annexed to Justinian’s Empire (Basler, 1972, 55-56). The fortifications erected on this strategically well chosen position were inter alia used to defend the settlement located on both banks of the river Miljacka, from the Alipasha mosque to the campus in present-day terms, and on the opposite side along the slopes surrounding the Vrbanja bridge. The ramparts of the fort are on the southwestern half of the site. The ramparts run along the southwest, west and north edges of Debelo Brdo, where the approaches to the site are easy. The eastern side is protected by a cliff which makes access very difficult. The fortifications have two ramparts: the south and west outer ramparts (approx. 118 m long) and the north inner rampart (72.5 m long).  The entrance (3.2 m wide) to the fort was to the west, almost at the southwest corner of the ramparts. There was a small tower (A), square in ground plan, in front of it. The floor of the tower was of lime mortar. In the southeast part of the fortification, the inner ramparts terminated in a tower of square ground plan, measuring 8.5 x 4.5 m: tower (B). Fiala found this tower standing to a height of above the first floor, with its surviving plastered ceiling. When protective excavations were carried out in 1983, no traces of the ceiling were found. The ramparts ran in zigzag lines, and were built of roughly dressed stones measuring 0.4 (0.6) x 0.2 m, bonded with lime mortar. In 1893 the remains of the ramparts survived to a height of 0.6 to 1.3 m over almost their entire length, while in 1983 the remains of walls were found only in the south-west and west sections, at a height about 0.6 m (approx. 3 courses of stones).

Much domestic and imported pottery (1895, 125) from antiquity (1st tol 4th century) was found inside the ramparts, as well as parts of kniwes, chisels, belt buckles, bronze buttons and sewing needles, mirror stands, agricultural tools (hoes, a piece of a plough, bores, small arrows). Among other items, two pottery bottles made on a potter’s wheel were discovered. On the base of one of them was an inscription in lower-case italics in Latin EGO IVSTVS OLARIVS ET MANUS MEAS RVGETVS ET FETETVS. The general meaning of the inscription is “I am the first potter, my hands are dirty, but productive” (Sergejevski, 1947, 39-40). In addition to the pottery, there were numerous finds of glass vessels. Several antique coins were also discovered, from a silver coin from the town of Dirrachia and denarius coins dating from 32, the oldest coins found (Sergejevski, 1947, 40), to small bronze Vetrania, coined in Sisak in 350, (Sergejevski, 1947, 41), and coins of Constantine the Great and Constantine II (Fiala, 1895, 130).

            From late antiquity, pieces of bone combs were discovered, as well as cross-shaped fibulas with bulbous ends, scales and scale weights, and various buckles (Vinski, Fiala,  1894, T.XII, 11-14; idem, 1985, T.XV, 16; Vinski, 1967, 50, e.g. 609 and 610; idem 1969, 193-199).


3. Legal status to date

During the procedure prior to the adoption of the final decision on the proclamation, the following acts on the protection of the property were consulted, and it was found as follows:

  • the archaeological site if Debelo Brdo, located in the municipalities of Novo Sarajevo and Sarajevo Centre, was not placed under the protection of the Republic Institute for the Protection of the Cultural and Natural Heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina;
  • the site was registered as a cultural monument in the Cantonal Institute for the Protection of the Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage of Sarajevo, and is on the List of Registered and Previously Protected Cultural Monuments, revised on 1 September 2004;
  • the Regional Plan of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina to 2002 listed the site as a Category I monument.


4. Research and conservation and restoration works 

            1889-1896: investigations were carried out by Franjo Fiala.

            In 1983, conservation and review excavations were organized by the City Institute for the Protection and Use of the Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage, Sarajevo. The excavations were led by Lidija Fekeža MA and Blagoje Govedarica MA.  The excavations were carried out simultaneously with the construction of a military facility-centre of the then JNA.

            The movable archaeological material discovered during the 1889-1896 excavations was housed in the National Museum in Sarajevo, while the material discovered during the excavation 1983 will be handed over to the Museum of Sarajevo City. 


5. Current condition of the property

An on-site inspection of the site of Debelo Brdo conducted on 2 August 2004 ascertained the following: the site is derelict to a large extent and in a state of total neglect. Two concrete entrances to the underground Communication Centre of the then JNA were built in the cliff bordereing the eastern side of the site. The remains of the late antique fortifications were not destroyed by these works, but there are the remains of vertical concrete trenches in various places on the Debelo Brdo plateau, and the concrete footings of a small building where the military garrison used to be housed. At the north-west corner are the remains of trenches dug by the Army of BiH during the 1992-1995war. On the outskirts of the site, to the south-east, a few layers of sandbags setup by SFOR during the war still lie over the late antique remains. The late antique remains are completely overgrown with shrubs and grass.    

The easiest access to the site is from the east and south-east side, but this leads through private property belonging to the Asčić family.



Applying the Criteria for the adoption of a decision on proclaiming an item of property a national monument (“Official Gazette of BiH”, no.33/02 and 15/03), the Commission has enacted the Decision cited in the enacting clause.

The decision is based on the following criteria:

A) Time frame

B) Historical value

D) Clarity (documentary, scientific and educational value)

D.ii. evidence of historical change

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

F) Townscape/Landscape value

F.ii. meaning in the townscape

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

G) Authenticity

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:

-     Photo documentation 

-     Drawings.



During the procedure to designate the monument as a national monument of BiH, the following works were consulted:


1894.    Fiala, Franjo, Jedna prehistorička naseobina na Debelom brdu kod Sarajeva (A prehistoric settlement at Debelo Brdo near Sarajevo). Jnl of the National Museum VI, Sarajevo, 1894, 107-140.


1895.    Fiala, Franjo, Izvještaj o iskopinama na Debelom brdu kod Sarajeva godine 1894 (Report on excavated artifacts at Debelo Brdo near Sarajevo, 1894), Jnl of the National Museum VII, Sarajevo, 1895, 123-137.


1896.    Fiala, Franjo, Izvještaj o prekopavanju na Debelom brdu kod Sarajeva (Report on excavations at debelo Brdo near Sarajevo), Jnl of the National Museum VIII, Sarajevo, 1896, 97-108.


1947.    Sergejevski, Dimitrije, Arheološki nalazi u Sarajevu i okolici (Archaeological discoveries in Sarajevo and its surroundings), Jnl of the National Museum in Sarajevo, new edition, social sciences, vol. II, Sarajevo, 1947, 13-50.


1967.    Vinski, Zdenko, Kasnoantički starosjedioci u Salonitanskoj regiji prema arheološkoj ostavštini predslavenskog supstrata (Late antique indigenous inhabitants in the Salonitan region according to the archaeological legacy of the pre-Slav substratum), Newsletter for Dalmatian archaeology and history LXIX/196, Split, 1974, 5-85. 


1968.    Vinski, Zdenko, Autohtoni kulturni elementi u doba doseljenja Slovena na Balkan (Autochthonous cultural elements in the period of the Slavs Immigration to Balkans). In: Simpozijum Predslavenski kulturni elementi na Balkanu u etnogenezi južnih Slavena (Symposium on Pre-Slav cultural elements in the Balkans in the South Slav ethnogenesis), Mostar 24-26 October 1968). Special edition of the Academy of Arts and Sciences of Bosnia and Herzegovina, volume XII, Centre for Balkan Research, volume 4, Sarajevo, 1969, 171-200).


1972.    Basler, Đuro, Arhitektura kasnoantičkog doba u Bosni i Hercegovini (Architecture of late antiquity in Bosnia and Herzegovina), Veselin Masleša, Cultural Heritage series, Sarajevo, 1972.


1976.    Čović, Borivoj, Metalurška djelatnost vučedolske grupe u Bosni (Metallurgical activities of the Vučedol group in Bosnia and Herzegovina).  Annals of the Academy of Science and Arts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, volume XIII, Centre for Balkan Research, volume 11, Sarajevo, 1976, 105-117.


1983.    Čović, Borivoj, 7 Prelazna zona: U: Bronzano doba. Praistorija jugoslavenskih zemalja IV (7 Transitional zone: In: Bronze  Age. Prehistory of the South Slavic countries IV, Sarajevo 1983, 171-183.).


1983a. Čović, Borivoj, Srednjobosanska kulturna grupa. U: Bronzano doba. Praistorija jugoslavenskih zemalja IV (Central Bosnian cultural group. In: Bronze Age. Prehistory of the South Slavic countries), Sarajevo 1983, 433-457.


1987.    Čović, Borivoj, Srednjobosanska grupa. U: Željezno doba. Praistorija jugoslavenskih zemalja V (Central Bosnian group, In: Iron Age, Prehistory of the South Slavic Countries), Sarajevo 1987, 481-530.


View of Debelo Brdo site from SarajevoDebelo brdoThe archaeological area of Debelo brdoRemains of the late ancient tower
Archeological findings - ceramicArcheological findings - metal  

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