[Tagging] Stećci - Bosnian medieval tombstones

Kevin Kenny kevin.b.kenny+osm at gmail.com
Wed Mar 29 00:26:00 UTC 2017

A tomb without a body, built to commemorate dead whose remains lie
elsewhere, is a 'cenotaph'.

There's an earlier, inconclusive, thread on the topic:


On Tue, Mar 28, 2017 at 5:28 PM, Michal Fabík <michal.fabik at gmail.com> wrote:
> Hi,
> some time ago, I was wondering what would be the proper way to tag a stećak
> (plural form stećci), a large monolithic tombstone, often with carved
> inscriptions and/or ornaments, found in Bosnia and neighbouring countries
> (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ste%C4%87ak).
> They are usually the shape of a large coffin (though other shapes exist
> too), but they are solid stone, unlike sarcophagi, which really _are_
> coffins, i.e. hollow. They are usually found in groups from a few up to a
> few hundred. The groups of stećci are locally known as necropolises, though
> they don't quite fit the Wiki's definition of a necropolis - "a large
> ancient cemetery with elaborate tomb monuments" - they are not necessarily
> large, they aren't really ancient (they're medieval) and they're hardly
> elaborate monuments - it's just biggish stone blocks strewn randomly on a
> meadow.
> Normally, it would probably be enough to tag the necropolis as a whole
> (probably as some sort of a historic=archaeological_site) but like I said,
> sometimes they are isolated and sometimes they have been moved to a another
> location altogether. Furthermore, there are efforts to catalogue them and
> decipher/translate the inscriptions carved into some of them, so it can
> definitely be of interest to some people to know where exactly a particular
> stećak is located.
> They are usually described as tombstones though I'm not 100% sure if all of
> them are tombstones, there might be some that served some other
> (ceremonial?) purpose rather that marking an actual grave, but I might be
> wrong. Then there are some that used to mark a grave but were moved to a
> different location (there are some on display in front of a museum in
> Sarajevo and some other places) so they should be tagged as stand-alone
> objects, not as features of graves. The graves themselves aren't
> significant, to my knowledge - most of them are nameless, they aren't
> normally researched/exhumed etc.
> I've started a thread on the Bosnian forum
> (https://forum.openstreetmap.org/viewtopic.php?id=56800, in Serbo-Croatian)
> but I only got one answer since the Bosnian community isn't exactly active,
> so I thought I'd ask what you guys think, even though some of you might not
> be familiar with the subject.
> So far, I have a couple of ideas in mind:
> historic=rune_stone + historic:civilization=*
> + both are established tags
> + to a layperson it gives a pretty good idea what to expect
> - they are not rune stones
> - there is no consensus as to what civilization created them, unless we use
> something very generic like "Bosnian_pre-islamic" or similar
> historic=tombstone + tombstone=stećak
> + probably the most accurate
> - not well established (just one occurrence of historic=tombstone according
> to taginfo.osm.org)
> - not sure whether all of them are tombstones
> historic=stećak
> + straightforward and accurate
> - not established at all
> - hardly anybody knows what a stećak is IRL
> - contains a non-ASCII character, some people might not be bothered to spell
> it properly
> historic=stecak
> + more user friendly than the above
> - "wrong" spelling - might confuse users who speak the local language, i.e.
> the ones most likely to map them
> So, any suggestions?
> Best regards,
> --
> Michal
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