Decisions on Designation of Properties as National Monuments

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Late Antique Basilica of Vrba, the historic site

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Status of monument -> National monument

Published in the „Official Gazette of BiH“ no. 14/12

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 21 to 24 November 2011 the Commission adopted a






The archaeological site of the remains of a late Antique basilica in the village of Vrba, Municipality Glamoč, is hereby designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereinafter: the National Monument).

The National Monument consists of the late Antique basilica and movable archaeological material housed in the Gorica Franciscan Museum and Gallery in Livno.

The National Monument is located on a site designated as cadastral plot no. 1504, title deed no. 375, cadastral municipality Jakir (8), Municipality Glamoč, 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.




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 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 setting up signboards with basic details of 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 for the presentation of 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;

-          all construction and works that could have the effect of altering the site are prohibited, as is the erection of temporary facilities or permanent structures not designed solely for the protection and presentation of the National Monument;

-          the collection without authorization of movable archaeological material is prohibited;

-          measures for the technical protection of the archaeological site may be carried out only after archaeological excavations have been conducted;

-          the site of the monument shall be open and accessible to the public and may be used for educational and cultural purposes;

-          proper access to the National Monument shall be provided;

-          the site and structures shall be tidied and cleared of self-sown vegetation;

-          the dumping of waste and rubbish is prohibited.




All movable artefacts found during the course of the archaeological survey shall be deposited in the nearest museum able to provide the necessary personnel, material and technical conditions or in the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo, processed, and suitably presented.      

All movable and immovable archaeological material found during the course of the archaeological investigations shall be professionally analyzed.

Upon completion of the archaeological works the archaeologist in charge of the investigations shall submit a report to the Commission and to the institution that conducted the investigations.

The archaeologist leading the investigations must have access to all the movable and immovable archaeological material found during the course of the investigations and until his/her report is completed, for a period not exceeding three years.

All immovable finds shall be conserved in situ as the archaeological investigations proceed, and the movable archaeological material shall be conserved and placed for safe keeping in a suitable storage facility.

Upon receipt of a report on the investigations conducted, the Commission shall identify which movable artefacts shall be subject to protection measures to be determined by the Commission.




The removal of the movable heritage items 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 or can be carried out to a higher standard and more quickly and cheaply abroad.

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, the Commission shall stipulate all the conditions under which the removal from Bosnia and Herzegovina may take place, the date by which the items shall be returned to the country, 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 are hereby revoked to the extent that they are not in accordance with the provisions of this Decision.




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.




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 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.kons.gov.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 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. 05.1-2.3-77/11-33

21 November 2011



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 25 June 2007 the Glamoč University Extension cultural and educational institution submitted a proposal/petition to designate the late Antique basilica in the village of Vrba, Glamoč Municipality, 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

The site of the municipium of Salvium where the present-day village of Vrba is located, five kilometres south-east of Glamoč, is of outstanding archaeological significance. No other site in Bosnia provides such evidence of the way of life of the local (Illyrian) population from the Romanization period to the coming of the Slavs and Avars to the Balkans in the 6th century. The monument consists of a number of tombstones and archaeological fragments the style and content of which reveal aspects of the indigenous material culture that otherwise remains unknown or little known, such as the urbanization of their settlements, particularly small towns or borgatas (villages) such as the one in Vrba. The site also includes the significant remains of an early Christian church built for the inhabitants of the town, modelled on the Roman basilica. In its earlier phase, the basilica in Vrba was a small basilical church with a nave, narthex and presbytery. In the 5th and early 6th century it was extended to the north by building on a baptistery, consignatorium and martyrium. 



In the procedure preceding the adoption of a final decision to proclaim the property a national monument, the following documentation was inspected:

-          Data on the current condition and use of the property, including a description and photographs

-          An inspection of the current condition of the property

-          A copy of the cadastral plans

-          A copy of the Land Register entries

-          Details of statutory protection to date

-          Historical, architectural and other documentary material on the property, as set out in the bibliography forming part of this Decision.


Pursuant to Article V para. 2 of Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Article 37 of the Rules of Procedure of the Commission, before rendering a final decision designating a property as a national monument, the Commission will provide the owner of the proposed monument, the person submitting the petition, the institutions responsible for heritage, professional and academic institutions, experts and scholars, as well as other interested parties, to express their views. Accordingly, the Commission sent a letter ref. 05.1-35.2-8/11-225 dated 2 November 2011 requesting documentation and views on the designation of the late Antique basilica in Vrba, Glamoč Municipality, as a national monument of BiH, to Glamoč Municipality, Department of Proprietary Rights and Cadastre, and the Institute for the Protection of Monuments under the Federal Ministry of Culture and Sport.

The Commission has received the following documentation:

-          letter ref. 07-40-4-2868/07 of 29 August 2007 from the Institute for the Protection of monuments under the Federal Ministry of Culture and Sport, notifying the Commission that the late Antique basilica in Vrba, Glamoč Municipality, was listed but not protected by the Institute for the Protection of the Cultural and Natural Heritage of BiH, and supplying a photocopy of the plan of the basilica

-          letter ref. D-265/2011 of 23 November 2011 from the Gorica Franciscan Museum and Gallery in Livno supplying a copy of the Acknowledgement of Receipt of Roman and early Christian monuments from Vrba in Glamoč of 6 June 2005, confirming that the monuments are housed in the museum.


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


1. Details of the property


The National Monument is located on a site designated as cadastral plot no. 1504, title deed no. 375, cadastral municipality Jakir (8), Municipality Glamoč, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The basilica stood at the north-eastern edge of the Antique settlement at Borak (cadastral name Majdanište), on a low diluvial terrace at the edge of the polje, on the plot known as Borak-Grm (woodland and pasture), the property of brothers Rado and Gavro Belenzade(1). The burial ground of the inhabitants of the Antique settlement was on the western side of this plot, by the west end of the basilica, on a plot known as Marijina njiva (more broadly, Kamenice). Two previously known gravestones in the form of a cippus, now in the Orthodox church of SS Peter and Paul in the eastern part of Borak, also came from Marijina njiva. It is likely that there were also Antique graves in Kaldrme field, by the Roman road that ran along the southern edge of the Antique settlement, thirty to fifty metres north of and parallel with the present-day asphalt road.

The late Antique basilica is at Borak in the village of Vrba, in the Glamoč polje, about 5 km south-east of the town of Glamoč, at 44°01'03.20, 16°53'48.32" and an altitude of 903 m.

Historical background    

Municipium Salvium

The Delmatae municipium Salvium in present-day Bosnia was in the Glamoč polje, and it seems likely that the Livno polje, at a slightly lower altitude, also belonged to it, since the two poljes would appear to have constituted a single tribal area in pre-Roman times. The Glamoč polje is located between high mountains: Mts. Golija and Staretina to the south, separating it from the Livno plain to the south-west, Mt Šator to the west, and Vitoroga (Hrbljina) and Cincar to the north. Both poljes were quite densely inhabited, with numerous hill fort settlements (castella, oppida), some of which were still in use in Roman times. The ethnic territory of the Delmatae extended northwards as far as the watershed, on the line formed by Vitoroga, Cincar, Ljubuša and Vran, where the Delminium area ended, and where the Delmatae marched with the trans-Dinaric tribes that Strabo regarded as Pannonian. To the north-west were the Ditiones and Sardeates, to the north and east the Maesiae and Daesitiates, along with other smaller, lesser-known tribes(2).

The many decurion inscriptions without a municipium name, from several settlements of the two nearby karst poljes, clearly call for a different approach to resolving the puzzle of municipia in this area.  What is needed above all is a deeper analysis of every aspect (archaeological, epigraphic and hodological) of this extremely complex issue.

The municipium in the Glamoč polje is corroborated by three inscriptions from Podgradina(3), effectively from Vrba, to which Podgradina, less than a kilometre away, also belonged.  No inscription from Vrba itself bears the name of the municipium.  Roman monuments from Podgradina were sometimes brought from nearby Vrba.

There are no inscriptions with municipium details from Halapić, from which numerous votive inscriptions originate, including beneficiary inscriptions. Sergejevski rightly concluded from this that the municipium was probably where monuments naming it were found. The location at Vrba for the municipium in the Glamoč polje has been accepted by Α. Pašalić, G. Alföldy and J. J Wilkes, all of whom regard the municipium in Vrba (Podgradina) as identical with the municipium Salvium of epigraphic monuments, which has also been corroborated by archaeological and hodological investigations. The municipium of Salvium, after which its territory was named, lay on the Borak diluvial terrace in the arable lands of the village of Vrba, on the Glamoč to Livno road, five or six kilometres south-east of Glamoč, the town that is now the administrative centre of the eponymous karst polje, with an average altitude of about 920 m. Like Delminium, this small town was on a main road, but only on a minor road linking it with Livno. The town developed on level ground in the polje, Roman style, but with indigenous features. Though its ruins have long since been grubbed up (hence the cadastral name Majdanište [indicating a quarry]), archaeological finds to date still provide a good cross-section through the material and spiritual life of the little town. Investigations of the late Antique basilica at Borak in 1974-76 provided a good insight into the religious beliefs and way of life of its residents, who were mainly artisans, masons, potters, coppersmiths and so on, as far as can be determined from the material remains.

The numerous sepulchral monuments dating from Roman times (2nd to 4th century) used as spolia to build the basilica reveal the semi-Romanized way of life of the uplanders, who had happily assimilated the achievements of Roman civilization and culture but retained their profound bond with their local beliefs and customs, as demonstrated by their costumes, jewellery and hairstyles (men with short hair, sometimes bearded, with a cloak, sometimes holding a scroll; woman in local costume with a headscarf, hair neatly combed, and a large pectoral)(4).

It is clear that here too, local features lie beneath the Roman form, all of which demonstrates that despite the strong impact of Romanization, in the Glamoč polje the lavish lifestyle of the local (Illyrian) population survived into the 3rd and 4th centuries and even later, until the migration into the Balkans of the Slavs and Avars in the 6th century. This is also the first time that such valuable information on the local population in Roman times can be obtained at a single site. The style and content of the monuments indicate a part of the indigenous material culture that otherwise remains unknown or little known, such as the urbanization of their settlements, particularly small towns or forts such as the one in Vrba.

The town covered about 15 hectares. In Borak D. Sergejevski located a small town (borgata) of a few dozen houses, stone-built in his opinion, though the upper parts of the buildings were probably mainly wooden, since the houses were built of local, mainly lightweight materials as they are to this day, on account of the wealth of forests in the Glamoč polje. Very few tiles and brick were found, but quite large quantities of mudstone, probably from stone footings.  The settlement developed beside a free-flowing spring near Han Vrba, one of the largest in the otherwise dry Glamoč polje. As time went by the town acquired certain Roman urban facilities, such as a cemetery and a temple to the Roman gods, built in the Roman fashion, and certainly a tavern by the road that ran west of the town. In late Antiquity a substantial fortress was built on Gradina above Podgradina, where there had been a fortified Illyrian oppidum in pre-Roman times(5).

Towns in the Dalmatian interior were small, ranging from 10 to 20 hectares in area. The houses, with their small workshops, probably surrounded by gardens, were most likely single-storey buildings. Judging from the fairly regular layout, they probably faced the street or road. As they developed, settlements of this kind probably owed their urban status more to municipal prerogatives than to their urban structure and appearance.  To this should be added the Christian centre of worship at Borak-Grm (forest and pasture, known as Borak).

Identifying Salvium as located in Vrba is thus corroborated by archaeological finds. Similar fortifications were built in present-day Halapić, about five kilometres north-west of Glamoč, where the road from the Livno polje ran over Golija and Staretina. This was the route people took as they travelled between the south and the north, between the coast and Pannonia, and in quantity of Roman coins found there, Halapić is far above other sites in the Glamoč polje.  The Salviae staging post also took shape here (It. Ant. 269, 4), with the post of the consular beneficiaries and a temple dedicated to Jupiter. Most of these monuments (votive, sepulchral and architectural) are Roman in style and content. There are no decurion inscriptions from here, but frequent references to Jupiter, some erected by consular beneficiaries, that is by followers of the official cult, though some votive reliefs have also been found to Silvanus and Diana. There seems also to have been a temple to local divinities in Halapić, with another in Vrba and one in Busija in Glamoč. The worship of local gods, though already imbued with Roman religious features, survived at least until the 5th century, when the number of monuments and inscriptions falls away sharply. The small capitals excavated during a trial dig in 1931 date the basilica to the 6th century; it seems to have been built on the ruins of an old Roman temple(6).

Numerous pre-Roman settlements have been found (34 hill forts have been identified) where life went on into the Roman period. At some of these Rajićke, Zajaruga, Ozren, Dolac, Šiljak hill fort, Skucani, Dragnjić-Blagodija), the remains of ramparts with mortared masonry have been found, suggesting that the Romans had small forts there, probably in the early days. During the Roman period, however, people began to descend into the polje, but nothing survives of these small rural settlements, where the dwellings were probably widely dispersed, as is typical of pastoral peoples. There are only some meagre finds to suggest that the settlements in Rajićke (Mladeškovci), Glavice, Glamoč and Podgradina, as well as the ones in Hasanbegovci, Isakovci and Šumnjaci (by the road to Rore and Prekaja) still existed in Roman times. In the latter three, the footings of Roman buildings, perhaps belonging to a villa rustica, have been found. The hill fort in Podgradina and Gradac in Halapić, and perhaps Gradina in Rajićke (Mladeškovci), were fortified as refuges in late Antiquity.

Back in 20 CE, during Dolabella’s rule in Dalmatia (P. Dolabella legato pro praetore), the Romans built a road across the Glamoč polje (the road and colonia Salonitana ad fines provinciae Illyrici with a length of CLXVII millia passus)(7), which seems to have run from Livno via Dolac, Skucani, Isakovci Mladeškovci and Mliništa northwards, via the north-east foothills above the polje. This was a strategic road during the time of occupation and pacification. Somewhat later it would be replaced by another two, on which the two principal urban (pseudo-urban) settlements of the Glamoč polje, Vrba (Salvium) and Halapić (Salviae) were located at hotbeds of trade and transport, the first on the Livno to Glamoč polje road and Salviae on the Salona to Servitium road of the Itiniraria Antiqua. 

The first specific results of Romanization, as far as can be ascertained from epigraphic sources, date from Hadrian’s time, when Delminium was granted the concession of Roman citizenship.

According to the logic of socio-political and administrative development, only an indigenous settlement that had become significantly Romanized could develop into a municipium, for only an indigenous civitas could be transformed into a municipium (there is no formal evidence of any tribal or peregrini civitas here). In a municipal community of this kind, the ruling class consisted of wealthy locals (piccola borghesia or landed aristocracy). Of all the settlements in the Glamoč polje, Vrba was the best situated to this, whereas in Halapić several Roman-type settlements are to be found. The centre of the municipium was thus in Vrba (Salvium in the restricted sense), while as noted above the Salviae staging post was in Halapić. Onomastic evidence suggests that Salvium acquired its autonomous status from Hadrian, not from Vespasian.

This upland region thus preserved its traditional institutions (language, anthroponomy, religion, art, costumes, lifestyle, occupations etc.) for several centuries, even though the new roads brought it into the Roman roads network as early as the 1st century, exposing it via Salona to influences from Italy and elsewhere in the Empire. Even in the 4th century, many inscriptions still reveal a wealth of local names.

The “old” gods began to fade into oblivion only when Christianity came to the area in the latter half of the 4th century. The first churches were built in the Glamoc polje in the 5th century, in Vrba and Glavica, in each of which a basilica has been excavated.

For the first three centuries, the Christians built no churches as such, but worshipped wherever they could find a suitable place to congregate. From the time of Constantine on, they began to gather in large buildings known as ecclesia, modelled on the basilica of Roman towns. 

At first, as the basilicas in both Vrba and Glavica reveal, these were small basilical churches with a naos, narthex and presbytery, which were enlarged in the 5th and early 6th century by building on a baptistery, consignatorium and martyrium to the north. The basilica in Vrba was an urban church, but also a sepulchral one; it would seem that there was a cemetery, or part of one at least, by the church even in pre-Christian times. The basilica in Glavica was a rural church, also of the Bosnian or Naronian type of early church, typical not only of the interior of the province. All three churches had the essential stone furnishings – a mensa, a pergola, pillars with capitals and imposts, and so on. In Isakovci, a village on the eastern edge of the polje, the foundations of a building that could also be a church have been partly excavated, but it is impossible to give even an approximate date when it was built on the basis of the walls of hewn mudstone, extensively used in Roman times for building, and abundant in the Glamoč polje. Also from Isakovci, a settlement that seems to have been on Dolabella’s road of 20 CE, are two monumental steles, and there have been frequent finds of Roman coins, suggesting that there was a small settlement there.

The changes of 533 to the organization of the Church allocated Salvium (late Antique Sahiaticum), originally in the bishopric of Salona, to the newly-established bishopric in Ludrum (Biskupija near Knin?)(8).


2. Description of the property

The architecture of the basilica was fairly well preserved horizontally(9). The walls were preserved to a height of 30 to 70 cm above floor level, usually about 50 cm. At floor level the only wall to survive was the one separating the naos and narthex from the north rooms. The location of the building between arable fields made the excavation and getting around very difficult.

The basilica in Vrba is one of the larger buildings of its type in Bosnia and Herzegovina, at 28.50 x 19.10 m. Typologically, it belongs to the “Bosnian type of church,” to be found in the interior of the province, as the most common type of religious building in the 5th and 6th centuries(10). There were also churches of this type in the large trans-Dinaric (karst) poljes.

Late Antique basilicas in Bosnia and Herzegovina have a number of feature sin common which may be regarded as typical. All are relatively small, almost square in plan, and with a range of side rooms, with only a small area for the congregation(11). They were usually rather untidily built, with spolia from older buildings and pagan tombstones. They usually lay east-west. None of them has a regular ground plan.

The basilica in Vrba was in fact a hall church, divided into three sections: a narthex (E), a naos (F) and a presbytery or sanctuary (G), terminating at the east end in a semicircular apse.  The side rooms to the north (A, B, C, D) included a baptistery (C. C1) with a raised baptismal pool measuring 1.60 x 1.20 m. Here too was a prothesis or pastophory (A), and what was probably a consignatorium (B), while room D, about which nothing is known, since it had been completely grubbed up, could have been a martyrium. Evidence for its existence was found in the large blocks of mudstone from the north foundations and from reports by the owner of the plot that a wall had been grubbed out by ploughing and bulldozing. All the north rooms were a metre below the level of the naos. The entire north wall of the side rooms was built on footings level with the field, and had largely been ploughed up. The presence of the wall was corroborated by the remains of mortar and stone and especially by the mudstone blocks of its footings. Six such blocks were brought to the surface by a tractor. Foundations of this kind are typical of late Antiquity in the interior, and are also found in the basilica in Glavice (Glamoč polje). The north rooms had been badly damaged because they were low down, at field level, and were reduced right down to floor level by ploughing, so that it was impossible to determine where there would have been openings in the wall, except for the steps from the baptistery, beside the pool, to the naos (F). The basilica in Vrba shows certain distinctive ground-plan features as regards the position of the diaconicon (sacristy) south of the presbytery (H), which was a functional solution.

Most of the liturgical area was taken up by the spacious naos (F) and the narthex (E), overall 18.65 x 11.80 m. However, the nature of the narthex was not fully clear, since little of it remained. It seems to have been separated from the naos by a partition, of which little survived.  The entrance to the nave was via a threshold in the narthex and two steps in the nave, between which the faint traces of a cross wall (or partition) 70 cm wide were excavated. The area around the entrance door at the west end was particularly puzzling; here a threshold was excavated at a depth of 1.50 m, below floor level, though there was none by the west door. A test pit of 1.5 x 1.5 m here revealed a substantial tomb without architecture, by the north-west corner of the narthex, containing at least fifteen skeletons. The impression was that they had been placed there in no particular order; they were found at a depth of 0.90 to 1.40 m below floor level. Animal bones were mixed in with the human skeletons. Four pottery pots were found in the tomb, corresponding in shape and structure to early Slav pottery. Later individual burials were found in several places; it is likely that the basilica was already in ruins, and that the deceased were buried around the ruins. This did not, however, explain the purpose of the threshold 1.50 m below the entrance to the narthex. The likelihood is that there was originally a vaulted tomb below the entrance to the basilica, but that the architecture had been ruined or destroyed by burials.

The floor of the church in the naos and narthex consisted of two levels of screed, marking two phases of the building: the lower of finer quality opus signinum mortar over a layer of gravel, and the upper a 17 cm layer of lime mortar, also on a layer of gravel. The same was found inside rooms B and C.

The apse, with the mensa and sanctuary, was largely well preserved at floor level, which was 35 cm higher than that of the naos. The round bases of the pillars of the mensa had also survived, while the area for the sepulcrum was merely indicated; a stone slab was found, with nothing below it but topsoil. The bench for the priests, or subsellium [synthronon] and part of the cathedra, had survived on the south side of the curve of the apse, much of which had been destroyed by later burials as a result of which only the foundations of the northern curve of the apse had survived. The sanctuary was separated from the rest of the presbytery by an altar partition resting on two square pillars. The plutei had not survived, if there were any. The presbytery was separated from the naos by a railing 30 cm wide reinforced at the ends. A door led from the presbytery into the room (H) south of the apse, which was 50 cm higher than the presbytery level, and was used as a diaconicon.

The vaulted tomb in room B was in one of the north rooms (B), probably the consignatorium. The chamber was chest-shaped, and faced on all four sides with finely dressed slabs 9 cm in thickness. The slabs at the ends were set into grooves in the ones along the sides.  The floor was also covered with slabs, and stone “pillows” were found as supports at the head and feet of the deceased. The tomb was 2.00 m long, 0.50 m wide and 0.735 m deep, and lay northeast-southwest; it contained just one person. A fibula with a curved foot was found by the skeleton, level with the right shoulder. The south-west part of the same room (B) contained two irregularly-shaped mudstone blocks, the purpose of which could not be determined(12). Irregularities were also noted elsewhere, for example the wall between rooms B and C, which was at an angle, not at right-angles. Such discrepancies are unusual or rare, and suggest that building skills had declined since the classic period (“similar irregularities have also been noted, for example, in the basilica in Dabravine.” (13)  

Other parts of the building were properly built, however. The whole of the presbytery, with the subsellia, the baptismal pool in the baptistery, the tomb in room B were all of good quality.  The structure of the walls was also of good quality, though in the late Antique manner (opus incertum) using local limestone of various sizes and uneven shapes, with fragments of soft stone spolia thrown in here and there. The plaster had survived in places in the apse, the naos, and rooms B and C; it consisted of a mixture of slaked lime, sedimentary sand and a small quantity of ground brick.

The stone furnishings of the basilica (14)

Judging from the relatively meagre fragments of architectural mouldings, the basilica was only sparsely equipped with stone furnishings. Several fragments of miljevina limestone were excavated which probably belonged to the basilica furnishings. These included eight fragments decorated with a Latin cross (crux capitata), several pieces of varying size of pillars of various diameters (16, 18 and 20 cm), and pieces of threshold, brackets, window jambs and other elements. Seven pieces of the altar mensa were also found, along with several fragments of the base, including three with unusual geometric (or foliar?) ornamentation over the entire (?) surface.

-          Two fragments of impost capital in mudstone. The capitals were decorated with a Latin cross with accentuated tops.

-          Two fragments of pilaster of soft stone, also decorated with a Latin cross. They were broken in two, one of which had an astragal carved above the cross. They were found in the naos and probably belonged to the altar partition.

-          Fragments of the altar mensa, found in various places in the basilica (C., E, G). Six appeared to be from the same mensa (5.5. cm thick), with the seventh, at 5.3 cm thick, possibly belonging to another. Three fitted together to form a 47 x 37 cm section, but the full dimensions of the slab could not be determined.

-          The base or trestle of the mensa, circular in section with a diameter of about 18 cm, all found in the apse. There were six in all, three with geometric motifs and three with circular mouldings.

-          Ten fragments from column shafts of various diameters, found in different rooms in the basilica, some perhaps belonging to the altar partition. About twenty smaller fragments of columns and two of semi-columns were also found.

-          Four pieces of threshold, with and without grooves.

-          Several fragments of unknown purpose.

-          Six large mudstone blocks from the footings of the north wall were also left on the site(15).


There were far more fragments from Antique, mainly funerary monuments that had been used as building material for the basilica(16):

1. Fragment of a tombstone, the mid section of a titulus with only the beginning of four lines preserved. The fragment is 43 cm high, 18 cm wide and 22 cm thick. The well-formed letters are 4 cm high.





The inscription is no older than the late 2nd century.

2. Fragment of an epitaph, left side. 29 cm high, 14 cm wide and 16 cm thick. Part of six lines of the epitaph survive; the rest had been destroyed top and bottom and to the right. The letters are 4 cm high. Early Empire capitals, rather roughly carved:





3. Fragment of a tombstone with epitaph. 27 cm high, 33 cm wide and 10 cm thick. The titulus is 23.5 cm wide. The letters are 3.5 cm high.







4. Cover of a cinerary urn with the right-hand semicircular acroterium. 18 cm high, 17 cm wide and 23 cm thick. Only the sigla M of the formula D(is) m(anibus) has survived. The letter M is 5 cm high.

5. Fragment of a tombstone (stele). The left side of the lower part has an ornamented edge and part of a titulus. 40 cm high, 29 cm wide and 20 cm thick. The letters are 5.2 cm high. Three letters at the beginning of each line of the epitaph have survived.








6. Fragment of an epitaph, right side, with part of a moulding. Fragment 15 cm high, 25.5 cm wide and 16.5 cm thick. The letters are 5.2 cm high.



7.Fragment of an epitaph from the middle, towards the end. 21.5 cm high, 20.5 cm wide and 10 cm thick. The back has been broken off. The letters are 5.2 cm high.




8 Right side of a tombstone with epitaph; the right side of the moulded frame survives.  35 cm high, 33 cm wide and 17.5 cm thick.






9. Top part of a tombstone, broken into two pieces that fit together. The left side bears a palmetto ornament with a spiral column with foliar capital next to it. To the right is the epitaph, in the titulus.  21 cm high, 37 + 18.5 cm wide, 20.7 cm thick. The titulus is 30 cm wide. The letters are 2.7 cm high.



10. Top part of a tombstone, with two tituli. The raised area between the left and right tituli has been knocked off. The tombstone itself has been cut to the left and right and at the time, destroying much of the epitaph. The fragment is 27 cm high, 41 cm wide and 17 cm thick. The letters to the left are 5 cm high, those to the right 3.8 cm high. The right and left parts of the epitaph are 15.5 cm apart.

CF        SATV




11. Fragment of an epitaph from a tombstone, from the middle of the epitaph panel. All four sides of the fragment have been broken off. 19 cm high, 14 cm wide and 9.0 cm thick. The letters are of equal size (4 cm) and are well carved and fairly regular.




12. Fragment of the epitaph panel from the left side of a tombstone, with moulded frame also partly preserved. 18 cm high, 27 cm wide, 6 cm thick.




13. Fragment of an epitaph, right side of the titulus with moulding and ornamented edge (a fruiting vine). The thickness of the fragment suggests that it is part of a stele. 25 cm high, 41 cm wide and 15 cm thick. The surviving part of the titulus is 28 cm wide. The letters of the first row are 4.5 cm high and those of the second and third are 4 cm high.




14. Small fragment of a tombstone, 11 cm high, 20 cm wide and 8 cm thick.



15. Fragment of a stele or titulus with the remains of an epitaph. 29 cm high, 25 cm wide and 18 cm thick.



16. Fragment of a stele with two portraits. The aedicule contains two half-figures, the one on the left holding a scroll in his right hand indicating citizen status. The left side of the tombstone has been cut away, as have the top and bottom. On the upper section with the figures, the busts survive to neck height but the heads have gone, and much of the titulus also survives. The right-hand edge of the fragment is decorated with acanthus leaves.  The fragment is 54 cm high, 42 cm wide and 16 cm thick. The epitaph panel is large at 29 x 30 cm. Most of the first six lines of the epitaph survives. The letters are 3 cm high except for the last line, where they are 3.5 cm high.







17. Fragment of the right side of an inscription with mounding, 14 cm high, 16 cm wide and 5.5 cm thick. The letters A . .. / TIC ... of the inscription survive. They are 4 cm high.

18.  Three fragments, broken off on all sides, found in the baptistery:

1. N... / ... CGV... / ...IDI...; fragment 16 cm high, 13 cm wide and 7 cm thick; letters 3 cm high;

2 .. . . ISSIM... ANNOR, letters 3 cm high, fragment 10 cm high, 13 cm wide and 7 cm thick;

3 .... N..., letters 3 cm high, fragment 8 cm high, 4 cm wide and 8 cm thick.

19. Fragment of a plaque with moulding at the top. 24 cm high, 12 cm wide and 8 cm thick. Only four letters of the epitaph survive:  .. . S / .. .S / .. . TP.   In four lines, perhaps t(itulum) p(csuit).

20. Fragment of a plaque (stele?), 40 cm high, 30 cm wide and 10 cm thick, with a small part of the titulus (14 x 6 cm) surviving at the top within a moulding, left and below with the letters: NTI.

21. Small fragment, broken off on all sides, 5.5 cm high, 12 cm wide and 11 cm thick. Only TO survives of the inscription. Fine lettering, 4.5 cm high.

22. Altar. Elongated moulded eaves a small part of which survives. The inscription on the right side is also chipped, as is the base. 71 cm high, 29 cm wide and 24 cm thick. The epitaph panel measures 34.5 x 28.0 cm. The letters are of different sizes: line 1, 3.8 cm, lines 2, 3, 4 and 5 3.4 cm, and line 6 2.5 cm. The lettering is rather uneven and shallow cut, giving the inscription a rather rustic appearance.







23. Votive monument in the form of a round plinth 12 cm high. This form is analogous to one from Bogdaslći in Šuica, which is also a votive stone. The diameter of this monument, in the form of a millstone, was up to one metre, but cannot be determined exactly as it has been broken into several pieces. Eight pieces survive, of which six have the remains of an inscription. This forms two lines around the outer edge of the stone; the top surface is completely blank. It is not known what kind of votive article stood on this stone. The letters are 4 cm high. The pieces with parts of the inscription are 25, 64, 17, 28, 21 and 25 cm wide respectively. The first five form an unbroken section of the inscription (chipped at the beginning, but the part on the sixth fragment does not fit directly onto the text.

(I). AV       (II) G S P AELI SECVN      (III) DVS D

PPR            O SALVE SVA ET CO         LLGI

(IV)   ET VA   (V) PRO DA                  (VI) ANTIS

O ERARIO       RVM B                           MILIAN

Fragments with carved decorations

Several fragments of carvings from tombstones, mainly stele, were extracted from the ruins of the basilica, including portraits of the deceased, various ornaments from the gables and edges, fluted and spiral pillars from aediculae and their capitals with foliar decoration and volutes, and the edges of stelae with acanthus, vine, palmetto and ivy motifs, often stylized; geometric motifs are rare. The most common motif in the middle of the gable is a rose or rosette with four or five lobes.

Figural fragments

1. Portrait of a man in a toga (18 cm high, 30 cm wide, 12 cm thick). The head and part of the bust with the toga are preserved.

2. Fragment of a stele with the busts of a husband and wife (36 cm high, 63 cm wide and 21 cm thick). The woman’s native costume is well preserved. The deceased is holding a scroll indicating citizenship. The woman has a large pectoral. Both lack their heads, but a woman’s head found separately appears to belong to this stele.

3. Figure of a headless woman in native costume with a pectoral (931 x 33 x 22 cm), holding a child in front of her.

4. Man’s head with beard, fragmentary (99 x 21 x 13 cm).

5. Top part of a woman’s head with hairstyle. The portrait is flanked on the left by a colonette with a foliar capital (24 cm high, 41.5 cm wide, 22 cm thick).

6. Headless figure of a woman in native costume with pectoral, with a spiral column to the right (28 x 33 x 19 cm), in high relief.

7. Figure of a man in a shirt (15.8 cm high, 22 cm wide and 11 cm thick; the figure is 18 cm high).

8..Left side of a woman’s head with a foliar decoration above (18 cm high, 25 cm wide and 18 cm thick).

9. Head of a woman with a headscarf, right side, belonging to the portrait under 8 above (29 cm high, 21 cm wide and 10 cm thick).

10. Head of a man with curly hair, accentuated in relief (26 cm high, 20 cm wide, 17 cm thick).

11. Head of a woman with a headscarf (22 cm high, 15 cm wide, 13 cm thick; relief 4.5 cm high).

12. Head of a woman with a headscarf, damaged  (22 cm high, 27 cm wide, 17 cm thick)

Small finds (17)

There were fewer finds of movable artefacts; as usual in religious buildings, quantities of flat and hollow glassware were found, with some pottery, and three metal articles (a fibula, a small cross and a buckle).

Flat window glass of varying thickness, green, yellowish-green or almost clear, was found in various places in the basilica. Fragments of hollow glassware were found in the apse and the baptistery. Five fragments below to the bottom of a very fine-walled glass vessel, greenish in colour with a concave hollow at the base, and one foot of a fine glass goblet, greenish-blue in colour, rather thicker walled. Two handles of light green glass were ales found.

Three of the six pottery sherds were from the belly of a coarsely made, thick walled vessel (8-10 mm thick) of light brown colour, found in room G. Two sherds of black pottery from a dolium-type pot were found in the baptistery (C). A sherd of fine pottery with a pronounced rim, of a colour reminiscent of terra sigillata, was found in the apse. All the pottery was made on the wheel.

A small bronze fibula with a curved foot (4.5 cm long, maximum width at the head 0.8 cm), with a moulded head and foot, was found in the tomb beside the skeleton (B). This type of fibula is typologically associated with early Byzantine fibulae, and is typical of the 6th century.  They are more frequently found in Salona and the hinterland, particularly in urban areas, and belong to the Romanized population.

A small Latin cross of sheet bronze (5.3 x 2.9 x 0.1 cm), without decoration and with unequal arms flared at the ends, was found in a trench by the north wall of the basilica. The top of the cross was fixed by thread to a background of some kind, probably as an appliqué. This cruciform jewellery, particularly in the Salona region, is ascribed to the local Romanized class of the 6th century, more exactly from 550 CE on.

A circular iron buckle with a diameter of 2.6 cm, the prong curved at the top, of the same cultural provenance. This was a surface find.

Dating the basilica

In ground plan, the basilica in Vrba belongs to the longitudinal type of basilica with projecting apse. Buildings with this layout, usually with two side rooms (prothesis and diaconicon), were initially typical of the whole of the Salona metropolitanate(18). The Glamoč polje, in the Salona hinterland, was subject to considerable influence from Salona from the earliest days of Roman rule, but with the passage of time, under the influence of building practice and liturgical needs, other facilities and stylistic features were added to churches, and a type of church with several side rooms, such as the one in Vrba, soon evolved. This extended form of basilica is usually called the Bosnian type of early Christian type, being found throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, but it is more properly the Narona type of basilica, since this type of church with several side rooms along one side developed first in Narona. The same arrangement is to be found in other regions, too – Dalmatia and Slovenia – though in Bosnia it is of a rather more rustic nature, particularly in rural areas.

            The question of typology is intimately associated with that of dating. Judging from analogues from Salona (the basilicas at Manastirine and Marusinac), basilicas could not have been built before the latter half of the 5th century, or perhaps even later. In N. Cambi’s view, this basilica type reached its full development in the 5th century. This dating would fit with the presence of tombs in room B, if it was an integral part of the church from the first phase of construction, which will allow for a late 5th century date.

            The basilica in Vrba has no baptismal pool for adult baptisms (an oval pool with a surrounding wall, raised above floor level). These were not common in early Christianity. Vrba differs in this from many baptisteries in Bosnia and Herzegovina and throughout Dalmatia, which have piscinas sunk into the floor.

            The fibula and cross suggest a 6th century date, but could have reached the basilica at a later date.

            The basilica probably came to grief during the Avar invasion of 597, and appears not to have been used thereafter. It was trashed and set on fire (there are signs of fire in various rooms).

Archaeological investigations at Vrba, though partial and incomplete, have yielded good results and provide an insight into life in the area over six centuries. Tombstones and inscriptions make it possible to track the Romanization of the local Illyrian population, and thus to gain an insight into the spiritual and material culture of four centuries, while the ruins of the basilica, into which sepulchral and votive monuments from the earlier period of Roman rule were built as spolia in the latter half of the 5th century (?), reveal the cultural and material circumstances in Vrba in the 5th and 6th centuries, as well as its decline and fall with the Avar and Slav invasions. The existence of an Illyrio-Roman agglomeration here is thus documented from the 1st to the end of the 6th century(19).


3. Legal status to date

The Institute for the Protection of monuments under the Federal Ministry of Culture and Sport notified the Commission in its letter ref. 07-40-4-2868/07 of 29 August 2007 that the late Antique basilica in Vrba, Glamoč Municipality, was listed but not protected by the Institute for the Protection of the Cultural and Natural Heritage of BiH.

The late Antique basilica is listed in the Archaeological Lexicon of BiH as Crkvina, Vrba-Borak(20).

The spatial plan for BiH to 2000 did not include the late Antique basilica in Vrba, Glamoč, as a protected cultural monument.


4. Research and conservation-restoration works

The late Antique basilica in Vrba was investigated by Ivo Bojanovski in three campaigns from 1974 to 1976. All the fragments were handed over to the Ivo Lola Ribar Centre for the Protection of Monuments in Glamoč(21).

Everything was ready for conservation, but ownership problems meant that the conservation never took place. Care was taken over conservation as the archaeological excavations proceeded, so that the walls and floors were not destroyed other than where absolutely necessary. For the same reason, minor architectural fragments were not removed from the walls. Also for this reason the large tomb by the west entrance to the basilica was not excavated(22).


5. Current condition of the property

The findings of an on-site inspection on 19 October 2007 are as follows:

-          the building is overgrown with low-growing and tall vegetation

-          the walls of the basilica are visible, and can be made out almost in full


6. Specific risks

-          self-sown vegetation

-          neglect

-          lack of awareness of the importance of the site



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.v.       value of details

D.         Clarity

(documentary, scientific and educational value)

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

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:

-          Ownership documentation

-         copy of cadastral plan

-         transcript of title deed 375, for plot no. 1504 c.m. Jakir (8), issued on 19 October 2007 by Glamoč Cadastre, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnia and Herzegovina

-          Photodocumentation

-         photographs taken on 19 October 2007 by Silvana Čobanov



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


1980.    Redžić, Husref (ed.). Prostorni plan Bosne i Hercegovine, Faza „B“ – Valorizacija, Prirodne i kulturno-historijske vrijednosti (Regional Plan for Bosnia and Herzegovina, phase B – valorization of natural, cultural and historical assets). Sarajevo: Institute for Architecture, Urbanism and Spatial Planning, Faculty of Architecture in Sarajevo, 1980


1981.    Bojanovski, Ivo. “Kasnoantička bazilika u Vrbi na Glamočkom polju” (the late Antique basilica in Vrba in the Glamoč polje), in Glasnik Zemaljskog muzeja BiH u Sarajevu, n.s., Vol. 35/36. Sarajevo: 1981


1982.    Bojanovski, Ivo. “Noviji rimski epigrafski nalazi s Glamočkog polja (Epigrafski nalazi iz Vrbe i Podgradine)” (Recent Roman epigraphic finds from the Glamoč polje [epigraphic finds from Vrba and Podgradina]), in Glasnik Zemaljskog muzeja BiH u Sarajevu, n.s., Vol. 37. Sarajevo: 1982


1988.    Čović, Borivoj (ed.). Arheološki leksikon BIH (Archaeological lexicon of BiH), Vol 3. Sarajevo: 1988


1988.    Bojanovski, Ivo. “Bosna i Hercegovina u antičko doba” (Bosnia and Herzegovina in Antiquity), in Djela (Proceedings), Vol. LXVI. Sarajevo: Centar za balkanološka istraživanja, ANUBiH, 1988


1990.    Basler, Đuro. Kršćanska arheologija (Christian archaeology). Mostar: 1990.


(1) Ivo Bojanovski, Kasnoantička bazilika u Vrbi na Glamočkom polju, 1981, 195.

(2) Ivo Bojanovski, Bosna i Hercegovina u antičko doba. Sarajevo: 1988, 233.

(3) Ivo ,Bojanovski, Op.cit, Sarajevo: 1988, 235.

(4) Ivo ,Bojanovski, Op.cit, Sarajevo: 1988, 236.

(5) Ivo ,Bojanovski, Op.cit, Sarajevo: 1988, 237.

(6) Ivo ,Bojanovski, Op.cit, Sarajevo: 1988, 238.

(7) Ivo ,Bojanovski, Op.cit, Sarajevo: 1988, 239.

(8) Ivo Bojanovski, Op.cit, Sarajevo: 1988, 244.

(9) Ivo Bojanovski, Kasnoantička bazilika u Vrbi na Glamočkom polju, 1981, 197.

(10) Ivo Bojanovski, ibid., 1981, 197.

(11) Đuro,Basler, Kršćanska arheologija, Mostar: 1990, 83.

(12) Ivo Bojanovski, Kasnoantička bazilika u Vrbi na Glamočkom polju, 1981, 201.

(13) Ivo Bojanovski, Kasnoantička bazilika u Vrbi na Glamočkom polju, 1981, 201.

(14) The stone furnishings of the basilica are housed in the Gorica Franciscan Museum and Gallery in Livno.

(15)  Ivo Bojanovski, Kasnoantička bazilika u Vrbi na Glamočkom polju, 1981, 204.

(16) Ivo Bojanovski, Noviji rimski epigrafski nalazi s Glamočkog polja (Epigrafski nalazi iz Vrbe I Podgradine), Sarajevo: 1982, 15-37.

(17) Ivo Bojanovski, Kasnoantička bazilika u Vrbi na Glamočkom polju, 1981, 206.

(18) Ivo Bojanovski, Kasnoantička bazilika u Vrbi na Glamočkom polju, 1981, 206.

(19) Ivo Bojanovski, Kasnoantička bazilika u Vrbi na Glamočkom polju, 1981, 209.

(20)  Borivoj,Čović (ur.), Arheološki leksikon BIH,TOM 3, 1988, 237.

(21) Ivo Bojanovski, Op.cit., Sarajevo, 1982, 24.

(22)  Ivo Bojanovski, Kasnoantička bazilika u Vrbi na Glamočkom polju, 1981, 205.

Late Antique Basilica of VrbaView on narthex and naosApseExavation, apse  <i>GZM</i> 1981
Small bronze fibula with a curved foot  and  small Latin crossMovable archeological findings stored in the Franciscans monastery and gallery Gorica in LivnoSpolia 

BiH jezici 
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