Stećci Medieval Tombstones Graveyards

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

It’s time to take a look at another UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Last week we were in the Roman Gaul as we explored the Roman Theatre and its Surroundings and the Triumphal Arch of Orange.

Today we’re headed back to Croatia as we check out the Stećci Medieval Tombstones Graveyards!

Stećci is the name for monumental medieval tombstones that lie scattered across Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the border parts of southern Croatia, western Montenegro and western Serbia. An estimated 60,000 are found within the borders of modern Bosnia and Herzegovina and the rest of 10,000 are found in what are today Croatia (4,400), Montenegro (3,500), and Serbia (4,100), at more than 3,300 odd sites with over 90% in poor condition.

Stećci were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2016. It includes a selection of 4,000 Stećci at 28 necropolises – of which 22 from Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2 from Croatia, 3 from Montenegro, and 3 from Serbia.

Appearing in the mid-12th Century, with the first phase in the 13th Century, the tombstones reached their peak in the 14th and 15th Century, before disappearing during the Ottoman occupation in the very early 16th Century.

The Stećci, mostly carved from limestone, are laid out in rows, as was the common custom in Europe from the Middle Ages. They feature a wide range of decorative motifs and inscriptions that represent iconographic continuities within medieval Europe as well as locally distinctive traditions.

They were a common tradition amongst Bosnian, Catholic and amongst BosnianCatholic and Orthodox Church followers alike, and are often related to the autochthonous Vlach population. The epitaphs on them are mostly written in extinct Bosnian Cyrillic alphabet.

How This Relates to Rome:

In 9 AD, the territory of today’s Croatia became part of the Imperium Rōmānum (Roman Empire). Emperor Diocletian built a large palace in Split when he retired in AD 305.

During the 5th Century, one of the last Emperors of the Western Roman EmpireJulius Nepos, ruled his small empire from the palace. The period ends with Avar and Croat invasions in the first half of the 7th Century and destruction of almost all Roman towns.

Roman survivors retreated to more favorable sites on the coast, islands and mountains. The city of Dubrovnik was founded by such survivors from Epidaurum.

We hope you enjoyed today’s journey. Hopefully you’ll join us again soon to check out another World Heritage Site, or just to see where we’ll be off to.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!