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Two stećak tombstones at Gromile in the hamlet of Račica, the historic site

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Status of monument -> National monument

Published in the “Official Gazette of BiH” no. 36/09.

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 20 to 26 January 2009 the Commission adopted a

 

D E C I S I O N

 

I

 

The historic site with two stećak tombstones at Gromile in the hamlet of Račica, Municipality Konjic, is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument). 

The National Monument consists of two gabled stećak tombstones.

The National Monument is located on a site designated as cadastral plot no. 1464 (part), Land Register entry no. 221, cadastral municipality Ribari, Municipality Konjic, 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, 6/04 and 51/07) shall apply to the National Monument.

 

II

 

The Government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the Government of the Federation) shall be responsible for providing the legal, scientific, technical, administrative and financial measures necessary for the protection, conservation and presentation 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 erecting signboards with basic details of the monument and the Decision to proclaim the property a National Monument.

 

III

 

To ensure the on-going protection of the National Monument on the site defined in Clause 1 para. 3 of this Decision, the following protection measures are hereby stipulated:

-          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 (hereinafter: the relevant ministry) 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,

-          works on the infrastructure are prohibited except with the approval of the relevant ministry and subject to the expert opinion of the heritage protection authority,

-          the dumping of waste is prohibited.

The Government of the Federation shall be responsible in particular for drawing up a project for the repair, restoration and conservation of the necropolis.

The repair, restoration and conservation project shall cover:

-          archaeological investigations,

-          clearing lichen and moss from the stećak tombstones and making good any damage,

-          tidying the site and clearing it of self-sown vegetation,

-          drawing up and implementing a programme for the presentation of the National Monument.

 

IV

 

All executive and area development planning acts not in accordance with the provisions of this Decision are hereby revoked.

 

V

 

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 thereof.

 

VI

 

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.

 

VII

 

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) 

 

VIII

 

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.

 

IX

 

This Decision shall enter into force on the day following its publication in the Official Gazette of BiH.

 

This Decision has been adopted by the following members of the Commission: Zeynep Ahunbay, Martin Cherry, Amra Hadžimuhamedović, Dubravko Lovrenović, and Ljiljana Ševo.

 

No: 02-02-40/09-3

21 January 2009

Sarajevo

 

Chair of the Commission

Dubravko Lovrenović

 

E l u c i d a t i o n

 

I – INTRODUCTION

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 22 November 2007 the Department of Administrative, Social and Inspectorate Affairs of Konjic Municipality submitted to the Commission a petition/proposal to designate the necropolis of stećak tombstones in the hamlet of Račica 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.

 

Statement of Significance

Stećci (pl. of stećak) are a distinct phenomenon and a highly specific synthesis of language and script, religion and customs, history and chronology, culture, art and aesthetics. They are mainly associated with the mediaeval regions of Bosnia and Hum, and it is hard, or indeed impossible, to find any similar feature that has so strikingly marked the cultural landscape of any mediaeval European country. In Europe as a whole, they are distinctive on account of their numbers and the fact that they were common to all the faiths of the region where they are found, a genuine multicultural phenomenon in the history of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Their origins and evolution may be traced from the mid 12th to the early 16th century. 

The two stećci on the site known as Gromile in the hamlet of Račica (village of Razići, Konjic Municipality) are gabled in shape, and are distinctive in that they are not of the low gabled form that narrows towards the basal plinth, but are unusually tall and narrow, widening towards the plinth.  One has a double plinth, a rarity in Konjic Municipality.

 

II – PROCEDURE PRIOR TO DECISION

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 the current owner and user of the property (copy of cadastral plan and Land Register entry);

-          Details of 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

Location

The two gabled stećak tombstones stand right beside the local road at Gromile, in the hamlet of Račica (in the inhabited region of Razići, about 20 km as the crow flies to the south-east of Konjic).

The National Monument is located on a site designated as cadastral plot no. 1464 (part), Land Register entry no. 221, cadastral municipality Ribari, Municipality Konjic, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The plot is listed as an uncategorized road (the road to Razići), in the sole ownership of Konjic Municipality.

Historical information

The area around the upper Neretva straddles two regions. Since prehistoric times, the roads linking central Bosnia with the Adriatic coast ran along the Neretva valley and its outer margins. With some alterations and adaptations to the route, major roads ran here in antiquity, mediaeval times and the Ottoman period, until the road was laid through the Neretva gorge from Jablanaca to the south in the 1880s. The central Bosnian ore-rich mining area, the fertile soils of the Neretva valley, and the rich mountain pastures, all led to the formation of many settlements throughout history, in line with the conditions and demands of their respective times, on the great bend in the Neretva between the mountain massifs of Bitovnja, Bjelašnica and Visočica to the north, and Prenj and Čvrsnica to the south(1).

Roads have always been an indicator of the way of life in a given area. For Konjic, the natural route linking Hum land, its coastal regions and Dubrovnik with central and northern Bosnia and part of Pannonia – a route where a road was laid in Roman times – was an important feature. Certain documentation concerning major routes in mediaeval times preserves the name ''Vlaški put'' (Vlach road), relating for instances to part of the old road from Zaborani to Glavatičevo. These Vlach roads, so called, in Herzegovina are known to have been the routes taken by semi-nomadic herders, most of them of Vlach origin (P. Anđelić, 1982, 90, 91)(2).

The mediaeval tombstones of Bosnia and Hum known as stećci became the subject of scholarly interest in not entirely favourable circumstances, hundreds of years after they had become a relic of a historic age. At the turn of the 18th-19th century, the western world began to hear of the unusual art to be found on tombstones in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Dalmatia, initially from the accounts of travellers that were not well documented enough to give rise to any significant interest in the west, particularly since western scholarship was then occupied with the analysis of entirely different works of art; as a result, the realistic, and indeed clumsy scenes on the stećci neither appealed to scholars nor aroused their interest.  In Ottoman Bosnia itself, there were no forces capable independently of studying and presenting these treasures of mediaeval art (A. Benac, 1963, XVII, XXIX).  In these circumstances, by the mid 19th century – when the process of modern national coalescence was in full swing and the question of whom Bosnia belonged to increasingly took on political and even apocalyptic significance – scholars were inclined to see the art of the stećci as having arisen from Bogomil teachings (A. Benac, 1963, XXIX). Nor was there any lack of efforts to give the stećci a purely Serbian or Croatian national stamp (V. Glušac, 1924, 31-35, 36-37, 50; Südland, 1990, 95, 96). From the mid 20th century, the prevailing scholarly opinion was that the stećci could not be explained by either “bogomilization” or any exclusively national theory, but rather than they should be situated in their own authentic world, the world in which they came into being, evolved and then died out in the late 15th century, after the mediaeval Bosnian state had itself come to an end(3). 

 

2. Description of the property

According to Š. Bešlagić’s statistics, Konjic municipality – with 3,018 recorded stećci – is one of those with the greatest number of stećci in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In terms of shape, chest-shaped stećci are the most numerous, with gabled and slab-shaped tombstones represented in almost equal numbers. The way in which the stećci are grouped makes it possible to trace and to document on the ground important historical features, processes and relations. The siting of large necropolises is a reliable indication of the centres of former religious and political communities. That of medium-sized necropolises enables one to follow the process of development of clan-based villages, while smaller groups reflect intensive feudalization and social differentiation, when individual clans no longer bury their dead alongside their neighbours, but form their own family necropolises. The stećci in the Konjic region can provide an important contribution to resolving the question of the origin of stećci, both in terms of ethnicity and as regards the origins of their basic form. The Sanković necropolis in Biskup is a striking example of the way in which, throughout the 14th century, stećci were used as tombstones by the most powerful landowning clan in the whole of Hum land, while the Bogopanci – Draživojevići – Sankovići are indubitably of Slav origin and culture, not Vlach. It should be borne in mind that by the 14th century the Vlachs already belonged to lower-class social structures and were certainly not in a position to impose their customs, and in particular the way in which graves were marked, on their overlords. The theory of the Vlach origin of stećci cannot be justified, even though there are several necropolises in the Konjic area, and perhaps the finest at that, which could be attributed to Vlachs.

Decorations began to feature on stećci in the mid 14th century, continued throughout the 15th century, and came to an end in the early 16th century. Circumstances such as the geological composition of the rock from which stone was taken to make stećci no doubt influenced the finer shaping of the tombstones. The considerable difference in the quality of workmanship of the stećci in the Neretvica valley, where there was no suitable stone, and that of the karst regions around Glavatičevo and Bjelimići, is striking. It would seem, however, that this was not the only reason for the differences, for the Jablanica area has good material, and yet does not have any particularly evolved forms and decorations. Among the influences from neighbouring districts that of southern Herzegovina (old Hum) is particularly noticeable, as can be seen throughout the area to the east of Konjic. In Bradina are low gabled stećci clearly modelled on those of neighbouring regions of central Bosnia. The epitaphs on the stećci are of particular value. They are written in bosančica (Bosnian Cyrillic) script, and date from the end of the 14th and the beginning or second half of the 15th century (P. Anđelić, 1975, 223-225).

The two gabled stećak tombstones stand right beside the local road at Gromile, in the hamlet of Račica (in the inhabited region of Razići, about 20 km as the crow flies to the south-east of Konjic)(4).

The plinths are damaged, and the workmanship is of rather poor quality. The stećci lie south-west/north-east. Unlike other gabled stećci, which often taper inwards towards the base, these are broader at the base. A feature of stećak no. 2 is its double plinth, a rarity in Konjic Municipality.

Condition of the stećci

Stećak no.1 – gabled with plinth, undecorated, covered with lichens, plinth damaged, covered with moss and overgrown with grass, lying south-west/north-east.

-          the stećak measures 165 cm in length x 44 cm in width at the top and 55 cm at the base x 152 cm,

-          the plinth measures 200 x 140 x 20 cm.

Stećak br. 2 – gabled with double plinth, undecorated, covered with lichens, plinth damaged, covered with moss and overgrown with grass, lying south-west/north-east.

-          the stećak measures 146 cm long x 50 cm in width at the top and 55 cm at the base x 140 cm,

-          the lower plinth measures 210 x 146 x 50 cm,

-          the upper plinth measures 155 x 72 x 33 cm.

 

3. Legal status to date

The Regional Plan for BiH to 2000 lists 69 sites of necropolises with stećci (3,018 tombstones) in Konjic Municipality, without precise identification (various authors, 1980, 52).

In a letter from the Institute for the Protection of Monuments of the Federal Ministry of Culture and Sport dated 26 November 2008, the property is listed as “Necropolis with stećci, Razići III, locality Gromile, hamlet of Račica, Konjic Municipality,” but was not on the Register of cultural monuments of the Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

 

4. Research and conservation and restoration works

Research works, in the form of recording and gathering information on the stećci, were carried out by Pavao Anđelić and published in 1975.

No conservation or restoration works have been carried out.

 

5. Current condition of the property

The findings of an on-site inspection conducted on 23 September 2008 are as follows:

-          the stećci are at risk of rapid deterioration from lack of maintenance,

-          the stećci are located outside the fenced-off area on the same plot, where there are a house and garage,

-          lichens and moss are present on the stećci,

-          the stećci are damaged to a greater or lesser extent (cracks, damage to the plinth),

-          the stećak with a double plinth is tilted and partly buried at the south-east end, and is overgrown with low-growing vegetation and grass.

 

6. Specific risks

-          deterioration of the necropolis as a result of long-term neglect,

-          adverse weather conditions,

-          self-sown vegetation.

 

III – CONCLUSION

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. iii.     proportions

D.         Clarity

D. i.      material evidence of a lesser known historical era

E.         Symbolic value

E. i.      ontological value

G.         Authenticity

G. i.      form and design

G. ii.     material and content

G. iii.    use and function

 

The following documents form an integral part of this Decision:

-          Copy of cadastral plan;

-          Copy of land register entry;

-          Photodocumentation, photographs taken on site.

 

Bibliography

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

 

1924.    Glušac, Vaso, “Srednjovekovna ‘bosanska crkva’”, in: Prilozi za književnost, jezik, istoriju i folklor, IV (The Mediaeval “Bosnian Church”, in Contributions to Literature, Language, History and Folklore, IV),  Belgrade 1924.

 

1963.    Benac, Alojz, Stećci, Prosveta, Belgrade, 1963.

 

1963.    Vego, Marko, “Patarenstvo u Hercegovini u svjetlu arheoloških spomenika” (Patarinism in Herzegovina in the Light of Archaeological Monuments), Jnl of the National Museum, n.s. (A), XVIII, Sarajevo, 1963.

 

1966.    Anđelić, Pavao, “Doba srednjovjekovne bosanske države” (The Age of the Mediaeval Bosnian State), in Kulturna istorija Bosne i Hercegovine od najstarijih vremena do početka turske vladavine (Cultural History of Bosnia and Herzegovina from Earliest Times to the Start of Turkish Rule), Sarajevo, 1966.

 

1971.    Bešlagić, Šefik, Stećci, kataloško-topografski pregled (Stećci, a Catalogue and Topographical Overview), Sarajevo, 1971.

 

1975.    Anđelić, Pavao, Historijski spomenici Konjica i okoline (Historic Monuments of Konjic and its Environs), I, Konjic,1975.

 

1980.    Various authors, Institute for architecture, town planning and regional planning of the Faculty of Architecture in Sarajevo, Regional Plan for Bosnia and Herzegovina; Stage B - valorization of natural, cultural and historical monuments, Sarajevo, 1980, 51.

 

1982.    Anđelić, Pavao, “Teritorijalno politička organizacija župe Neretve i njezino mjesto u širim političkim okvirima” (Territorial and political organization of the Neretva County and its place in the broader political context) In: Studije o teritorijalnopolitičkoj organizaciji srednjovjekovne Bosne (Studies on the territorial and political organization of mediaeval Bosnia). Sarajevo, 1982

 

1982.    Bešlagić, Šefik, Stećci. Kultura i umjetnost (Stećak tombstones – culture and art), Veselin Masleša, Sarajevo, 1982.

 

1990.    Basler, Đuro, Kršćanska arheologija, II. izdanje, Crkva na kamenu (Christian Archaeology, 2nd ed, Churches in Stone), Mostar, 1990.

 

1990.    Südland, L. V. (Ivo Pilar), Južnoslavensko pitanje. Prikaz cjelokupnog pitanja, Varaždin (The Yugoslav Question. Full account of the issue, Varaždin). Title of original: L. v. SÜDLAND, Die Südslawische Frage und der Weltkrieg. Übersichtliche Darstellung des Gesamt-Problems, Wien 1990.

 

1997.    Daniell, Christopher, Death and Burial in Medieval England, 1066-1550, Routledge, London and New York 1997.


 

(1) The historical information section has been taken from the Decision designating the Archaeological Monuments in the Park at Varda below the Social Centre in Konjic as a National Monument.

(2) For further historical background see the decision of the Commission designating the historic site of the necropolis with stećci in Glavatičevo, Gajine, Konjic Municipality, as a national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina, no. 02-02-264/08-5 of 5 November 2008.

(3) For more on stećci, see decision of the Commission designating the historic site of the Mramorje necropolis with stećci and old nišan tombstones in Lavšići, Municipality Olovo, as a national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina, no: 02-02-228/07-95, November 2008, and the Commission's web site: www.aneks8komisija.com.ba

(4) P. Anđelić recorded “two isolated stećci in the shape of tall chests with plinths” on this site. P. Anđelić, 1975, 217; Š. Bešlagić also recorded “two isolated stećci,” but described them as “tall gabled [tombstones] with plinths.” (Š. Bešlagić, 1971, 332).



Two stećak tombstones at GromileTwo stećak tombstones at GromileTwo stećak tombstones at Gromile 


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