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Stecci joins UNESCO's World Heritage List

CCTV.com

07-20-2016 01:12 BJT

They might look like really authentic props from Game of Thrones, but the Medieval tombstones found in the Balkan region are just some of the latest additions to UNESCO's World Heritage List. The tombstones, known as stecci, feature intricate engravings and give us a glimpse into what life was like in the region during the Middle Ages.

This graveyard in southern Bosnia takes visitors on a journey back in time. Known as stecci, these Medieval tombstones bear engravings and inscriptions that provide a window onto the culture that created them.

The cemetery at Stolac is one of the 22 sites in Bosnia where stecci can be found. The site was built at around the end of the 14th century. Many of its 135 tombstones are shaped like coffins, with engravings depicting men giving the Medieval Bosnian salute of a raised hand.

The tombstones, known as stecci, feature intricate engravings and give us a glimpse into what life was like in the region during the Middle Ages.

The tombstones, known as stecci, feature intricate engravings and give us a glimpse into what life was like in the region during the Middle Ages.

"Stecci are, in fact, the most original heritage that Bosnia can offer to the UNESCO list, both the European list and World list. So practically everything that remains from Medieval times, even before that, from Roman times, is now comprised by these monuments, which stand 70 centimetres tall. From Medieval times, we have thousands and thousands of stecci. These are in fact, necropoles (ancient cemeteries), and they tell us all about the rich context of their time, which we can fully reconstruct now, and also they are interesting as architectural constructions, sculptures and art compositions," said Professor Miroslav Palameta, expert on Medieval Bosnia.

The surviving tombstones are still standing despite the turmoil of war and recent instability in the Balkans. But many of Bosnia's stecci were damaged and destroyed during the Balkan war of the 1990s while others neglected due to lack of funds.

"Stecci are Medieval tombstones which to this day today survive as a wonder of the world. A few days ago they were finally placed on the world heritage list. This says a lot about them, but also a lot about us. The world heritage list is really important for the tombstones because they have now been given a new chance to survive, they have been endangered up to now. This tells you a lot about our negligence, about our poverty, our lack of culture, but it is really important that stecci now are a part of the world's heritage," said Miro Raguz, local historian.

Raguz says the Bosnian state and a national historical association have now allocated enough funds to preserve and protect the tombstones.

The process of nominating stecci for World Heritage status began in 2009. Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia and Montenegro were praised for working together to put forward their case.

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