Dec 16, 2013


Nenad M. Đorđević an independent researcher of ancient cultures and mythology on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina, believes that tombstones historically don't belong to the church of Bosnia, as the most dominant religious institution during the middle ages in Bosnia, nor to the catholic or orthodox church. He claims that the origin of the tombstones is much older than Middle Ages and that it spans into the period from Neolith and the beginning of the bronze era, between 7000 and 3500 years BCE.

According to Mr. Đorđević today's hypothesis about medieval origins of the tombstones is based solely on partial historical and archaeological data which were available to the academic stipend during the first few centuries after WWII. With regard to the theory about Bogomil and Patarene origin of the tombstones, it is not based on historical or scientific facts, since the followers of Bogomil religion generally rejected wealth and feudal exploitation of state government.
Bogomils also categorically refused the Orthodox Church and its hierarchy, its temples, sacraments and holiness performed by priests. Numerous reports sent to the pope spoke of this; like the one written by one of the four grand inquisitors, which were declared to be saints by the Roman church, Capistran (Giovanni de Capistrano), also known as an expert in heresy. In his letter to pope Callixtus III 04.07.1455 he wrote: "Bosnian Bogomil's (krstjani, Bošnjani) are not members of the Eastern Church, on the contrary, they would much rather die in their unbelief than accept the faith of Rašan (Serbs)."
In a similar sense they rejected all material objects which were used by the orthodox during their prayers and they condemned the use of icons, especially the cross, and the worship of relics or saints. Bogomils and Patarens were mostly religious preachers, indifferent to worldly affairs. Mass production of tens of thousands of monolith tombstones with rich decorative motifs is in total contradiction with the modest religious doctrine of the Bogomils and Patarens.
Bogomils had a similar aversion towards the Catholic Church. Pope John XXII writes on July 18th 1319 to Mladen Šubić ".that the land of Bošnjani is so tainted by the lack of faith, that the churches are neglected, priesthood is uprooted, Christ's sacred objects are scornfully trampled, there is no respect towards the cross, the sacrament of communion life is not upheld, on the contrary christening is to some only known as a noun, even though it is the basis of the Christian religion."
As an interesting fact we should mention that the Bogomil movement appeared in Bosnia before the 12th century, as some historians have postulated, and it spread from this land further west. Dominican Anselmo from Alessandria in Italy, who lived and worked during the 13th century, in one of his writings mentions that "the heretics were first located in Bosnia from where they spread their doctrine towards Lombardi, then further towards France, where it arrived in Orleans in 1022 and Arras in 1025 (A.Dondaine, Le Tractatus de hereticis d`Alexandrie, Arch. Fr. Praedic, XX, Rome 1950., p. 308-324.)

Because of the aforementioned facts we can conclude that tombstones are not a privilege of the church of Bosnia, or even less of orthodox or catholic Christianity, but that they had their ancient origin as a sacral motif of the cult of fertility and cult of the dead. Namely, from 70 000 registered tombstones, only 5000 have decorative motifs. From those 5000 decorated tombstones only 438 have as their main decorative element different types of crosses. This means that the most important religious symbol which is potentially subject to various churches, together with other variants of tombstones in the form of a cross, doesn't represent even 20% of decorated tombstones. The question that spontaneously rises from these facts is: how is it possible that the most representative symbol of both, Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Church only encompasses such a small number of tombstones? If with previous facts we add that most of the crosses on the tombstones are of pagan origin in a form of a swastika or anthropomorphic shape, then there can only be one logical conclusion - tombstones are not an exclusive privilege of medieval churches and cultures. Even though there are numerous proofs that tombstones were used as gravestones for catholic and orthodox Christians, and there are even some indications that a discrete number of tombstones were manufactured during the middle ages, reuse of numerous tombstones during the middle ages cannot be excluded in advance.