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Ana Veličković Kastratović

Serbia

Ana Veličković Kastratović is currently a third-year PhD student of archaeology at the University of Belgrade Faculty of Philosophy (Serbia). At the same institution, she got her BA (2018) and her MA (eng. Possible new conclusions regarding the process of Romanization based on the research of Roman bi-ritual burials, 2020). During her studies, she developed special interests in topics like the development of the early Roman Empire, Roman Army, Roman Provincial Archaeology and Theoretical Archaeology. She also worked on a couple of archaeological sites – Karamburnaki site in Thessaloniki (Greece), Belgrade Fortress (Serbia) and Glac site in Sremska Mitrovica (Serbia). Through her PhD, Ana hopes to gain new insides regarding the cross-cultural contacts and transmissions on the territory of modern-day Montenegro (Roman Dalmatia) during the first centuries of Roman rule.

Serbia and Montenegro – two sides and problems of the same archaeological coin?

With the breakup of Yugoslavia, Yugoslav archaeology was also divided into six local groups. During the 90s, “national” archaeologies appeared in order to accelerate the spiritual and cultural separation of the former members of the SFRY. In the last 25 years, a lot of effort was put into each of them to become independent, but what they could not avoid were the same problems – conditioned by their common academic and political past.

The problems are reflected in the misuse of history and archaeology for the sake of national awareness, as well as the destruction of cultural heritage when it is no longer needed or when it interferes with some other political/economic goal. Taking into account that I am from Serbia and that I completed my studies there, as well as that in my PhD I deal with the territory of Montenegro, I am most familiar with the problems of these two countries. It must be taken into account that these two countries were one until their breakup in 2006, so they share similar paths.

In recent years, there has been a noticeable increase in the endangerment of the archaeological heritage in Serbia, which can be observed on several levels. Wild searchers, whose activities directly destroy the archaeological heritage, are the most visible and most often mentioned as the culprits of the devastation of the archaeological heritage. The survival of the archaeological heritage, however, is threatened due to non-compliance or a very casual interpretation of the regulations when carrying out various types of excavations, from the construction of individual residential buildings to large infrastructure projects. Another big problem is the misuse and distortion of cultural heritage for political purposes.

Montenegro does not have an adequate legislative or institutional policy for the protection of cultural heritage. Its institutions, in previous years, were unable to oppose the serious devastation of cultural property, nor to punish the perpetrators of this criminal act.

It is necessary for state institutions to significantly revise the existing policy for the protection of cultural assets. This refers not only to legislative changes but also to the very organization of the complete system of protection. Also, awareness should be raised on what cultural heritage means for society and what we can learn from other societies to preserve and protect it.