Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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60th session - Decisions

Ponor necropolis with stećak tombstones, the historic site

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Status of monument -> National monument

Pursuant to Article V para. 4 Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Article 39 para. 1 of the Rules of Procedure of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments, at a session held from 8 to 14 November 2005 the Commission adopted a






The historic site of the Ponor necropolis with stećak tombstones, municipality Jablanica, is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument).

The National Monument consists of a necropolis with 21 stećak tombstones.

The National Monument is located on a site designated as cadastral plot no. 661, land register entry no. 37, cadastral municipality Risovac, municipality Jablanica, 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 (hereinafter: the Government of the Federation) shall be responsible for ensuring and providing the legal, scientific, technical, administrative and financial measures necessary to protect, conserve, and display the National Monument.

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




To ensure the on-going protection of the National Monument, the following protection measures are hereby stipulated, which shall apply to the area defined in Clause 1 para. 3 of this Decision.

  • 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 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 National Monument shall be open and accessible to the public, and may be used for educational and cultural purposes,
  • all works on the infrastructure are prohibited unless with the approval of the relevant ministry and the expert opinion of the heritage protection authority,


A protective strip with a width of 600 m from the boundaries of the site where the National Monument is located is hereby stipulated.

  • the quarrying of stone, the siting of potential environmental polluters as prescribed by regulations, the construction of industrial facilities and major infrastructure and all structures and facilities that could endanger the National Monument whether during construction or during operation are prohibited.
  • the dumping of waste is prohibited in both the protection zone and the protective strip.


The Government of the Federation is responsible in particular for ensuring that the following measures are implemented:

  • cleaning the stećak tombstones of lichens and moss;
  • repairing cracked and broken tombstones;
  • drawing up and implementing a programme for the presentation of the National Monument.




            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 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.


No: 05.1-02-245/05-3

9 November 2005                                                                


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 24 October the board of experts of the Archaeological Department of the National Museum of Sarajevo submitted a proposal/petition to designate the historic site of the Ponor necropolis with stećak tombstones 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)
  • Details of legal protection of the property to date
  • Data on the current condition and use of the property, including a description and photographs, data of war damage, data on restoration or other works on the property, etc.
  • Historical, architectural and other documentary material on the property, as set out in the bibliography forming part of this Decision.

The findings based on the review of the above documentation and the condition of the site are as follows:


1. Details of the property


            The Blidinje Nature Park is a mountainous area in the north-western region of Herzegovina.  It was founded in 1995 with the aim of systematically preserving and improving its natural and cultural values and distinctive features.

            The rich flora of the Park now consists of a great diversity of plants, from Mediterranean to high alpine natives, include many endemics, from fungi to the glory of the Park, the white-bark pine, of which Masna Luka and environs has the largest population in Europe.  Among the many animals in the Park, the brown bear and the chamois are of particular note.  The meeting of karst and glacial structures gives the region a particular charm and dramatic note.

            It is not known for certain when people first began to inhabit these regions.  The passer-by can now see prehistoric tumuli, Roman roads, the ruins of mediaeval churches, and many necropolises of stećak(1) tombstones, as well as alpine chalets with surviving elements of indigenous architecture, and a large number of typical stone boundary walls.

The necropolises with their stećak tombstones are rich in ornamental, symbolic and figural scenes.  The designs indicate that this area has links not only with Herzegovina but also with Kupres and western Bosnia.  Many of the decorations and other scenes make Blidinje a distinct entity.  Most of the stećaks are decorated with rosettes, crescent moons, crosses and various borders.  Figural representations vary in content, with hunting, jousting and round-dance scenes the most common. Their appearance and location in untouched natural surroundings makes them one of the richest and most interesting necropolises in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

            The village of Brčanj lies between Hrbin, Risovac, Vrata and Dragajice. The Ponor necropolis is at the western end of the village of Brčanj, in the place from which it has its name.

Historical information

The plateau by the Blidinje lake, with its pastures, arable areas and mountain massifs of luxuriant vegetation, abundant stone and timber, wealth of wildlife and numerous springs, offered relatively favourable conditions for the area to be settled at an early date.

There have been no systematic archaeological investigations of the area.  Archaeological methodology has been used to locate or to hypothesize the existence of about thirty sites the knowledge of which is based solely on chance finds or the results of reconnaissance.  In Barzonja, reconnaissance conducted in 1953 discovered the remains of an open prehistoric settlement between the stećak tombstones and to the east of the necropolis.  There is a prehistoric hillfort in Podjelinak, a small settlement (50 x 25m), where shards of earthenware vessels and grindstones, probably dating from the Bronze and Iron Ages, were found.  In Sesaruša, the remains of a prehistoric hillfort (85 x 85 m) and Roman fortifications abound in archaeological material indicating the Bronze and Iron Ages and the Roman era (P.Oreč 1978).

Stone tumuli have been recorded in Hrbine-Risovac, with numerous tumuli of which the most prominent is the Zmijska tumulus(2) and the Marića cemetery-Risovac-Lokve(3).

Chance finds of coins, two Illyro-Greek drachmas of Dyrrachium (229-100 BCE) and a drachma of Apollonius (229-100 BCE) from the Bare site, are evidence of a money-based trading economy from the late Iron Age.

A Roman coin of Galien (235-268) and Aurelian (270-275) has been found on the Bare site(4). Apart from this coin and traces of the presence of the Romans in prehistoric hillforts, and the assumption that Roman roads ran through the area, there are as yet no known monuments of antiquity.

Historical information on the region in the mediaeval period is very meagre.  Blidinje belonged to the Drežnica district, which formed part of the župa (county) of Večerići (Večenike) in Hum land (Anđelić, T. 2005. 417).

From 1325, Blidinje was part of Bosnia, ruled by the Kotromanić stock.  During the reign of Tvrtko I Kotromanić, the Bosnian noble Mastan Bubanjić lived in Drežnica.  He is referred to as a witness in royal charters dating from 1354 and 1355.  In the 14th century he had his own estate in Blidinje, Masna Luka, where he and his sons were cattle farmers.  A 14th century inscription in Bosnian Cyrillic, carved into the living rock in Donja Drežnica, refers to him.

From 1357, Blidinje and western Hum belonged to Hungary's King Ludovic I, as the dowry of his wife Jelisaveta, daughter of Stjepan Kotromanić.  After the death of King Ludovic, the region fell within the mediaeval Bosnian state, where it remained at least until 1463.

Numerous remains of the foundation walls of late mediaeval religious architecture in Crkvina-Badnji and many necropolises with stećak tombstones are evidence of settlement in this area in the mediaeval period. The stećak tombstones can  be dated to the second half of the 14th and the 15th centuries (Bešlagić, Š. 1955. 70).


2. Description of the property

The necropolis is located on a slight level elevation close to the road.  It consists of 21 stećak tombstones, 14 chest-shaped and 7 slab-shaped, lying west-east and arranged in rows.  One stećak is decorated.

This stećak(5) (168 x 60 x 48 cm), a chest-shaped tombstone, terminates in stepped form on the west face.  The south side has a carved scene of a tournament, showing a man holding out a spear or sword in one hand.  The spear has an unusual extension at the top, set level and at an angle.  In his other hand is an object in the form of a six-pointed star.  By the star is a carved crescent moon.

The stećak tombstones were cut from the quarry in Dragajice, 600 m to the north of the necropolis(6). A completed stećak ready for transport has been found in the quarry.


3. Legal status to date

There are no details of previous legal protection.

The site is not on the Provisional List of National Monuments of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments; the decision is being adopted on the basis of the petition referred to above.

The Regional Plan for BiH to 2000 lists the site as a Category III monument.


4. Research and conservation and restoration works 

Thus far no conservation or restoration works have been carried out on the stećak tombstones of the necropolis in Risovac.

Experts from the Institute for the Protection of Monuments of the Federal Ministry of Culture and Sport have drawn up a «Study of the influence of forestry on biologically sensitive sites», with special section «Individual national parks and nature parks: Prenj-Čvrsnica-Čabulja» which includes the area of Blidinje.  The Ponor necropolis is referred to as one of the most valuable cultural and historical monuments.  The study does not include special protection measures.


5. Current condition of the property

An on site inspection in September 2005 revealed the following: the stećak tombstones have suffered damage as a result of long exposure to the elements.  Plant organisms, mainly lichens, are present on the majority of the stećak tombstones and are damaging the structure of the stone.  The decorated stećak is in very poor condition: the decorative designs are quite badly faded and hard to make out because of the effect of lichen.


6. Specific risks to which the monument is exposed

Long-term lack of maintenance could lead to lasting damage to the decorations on the tombstones.




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

The Decision was based on the following criteria:

A.  Time frame

B.  Historical value

C.  Artistic and aesthetic value

C.iv. composition

C. v. value of details

G. Authenticity

G.i. form and design

G.ii. material and content

G.v. location and setting

I. Completeness

I.iii. completeness


            The following documents form an integral part of this Decision:

o        Copy of cadastral plan

o        Copy of land register entry

o        Photodocumentation: photographs from the site nos. 71-7d, no. 20, view 1, view 2, surroundings, group of stećak tombstones

o        Drawings – plan of necropolis (Š. Bešlagić)

o        Documentation of the Institute for the Protection of Monuments of the Federal Ministry of Culture and Sport: «Study of the influence of forestry on biologically sensitive sites», with special section «Individual national parks and nature parks: Prenj-Čvrsnica-Čabulja» which includes the area of Blidinje.



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


1959.    Bešlagić, Šefik, Stećci na Blidinju (Stećak tombstones in Blidinje), Zagreb 1959.


1971.   Bešlagić, Šefik, Stećci, kataloško-topografski pregled (Stećak tombstones, a catalogue and topographical survey), Sarajevo, 1971. 142-143.


1978.    Oreč, Petar, Prapovijesna naselja I grobne gomile, (Posušje, Grude I Lištica) (Prehistoric settlements and grave mounds [Posušje, Grude I Lištica] Jnl of the National Museum XXXII/1977., Sarajevo, 1978.181-291, 1-10.


1982.   Bešlagić, Šefik, Stećci-kultura i umjetnost (Stećak tombstones – culture and art), Sarajevo, 1982.


1988.   Various authors, Arheološki leksikon Bosne i Hercegovine (Archaeological Lexicon of BiH), Vol. 3, National Museum in Sarajevo, Sarajevo 1988


2005.   Proceedings of the First International Symposium Blidinje 2005 (16.09 -17.09.2005).


(1)  The Regional Plan covers eleven necropolises with stećak tombstones: Dugo Polje, Risovac-Suho polje, Barzonja, Brčanj-Ponor, Donje Bare, Jezero, Križevi-Striževo, Humac-Striževo, Sritna njiva-Donja drežnica, Lokve-Donja Jablanica.

(2)  AL BiH, Vol. 3, 216.

(3)  AL BiH, Vol. 3, 220.

(4)  AL BiH, Vol. 3, 260.

(5)  Featuring as no. 7 on the plan of the necropolis.

(6)  Š. Bešlagić found a tall chest-shaped tombstone of good-quality workmanship, with decorationbs, in the quarry.  The upper surface bears a carved crescent moon and rosette, and the side a horse.

Ponor necropolis with stećak tombstonesGroup of stećak tombstones in the Ponor village Group of stećak tombstonesDecorated stećak tombstone

BiH jezici 
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