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STECCI: New Project on Tombstones in the Age of Climate Change

02.02.2024
Rathgen-Forschungslabor

The project “Stone Monument Ensembles and the Climate Change Impact” (STECCI), funded by the European Union, is a pioneering/groundbreaking initiative for safeguarding and preserving Europe's unique tombstones in the face of accelerated climate change.

At the heart of this international endeavor is the close collaboration between previously conflict-ridden countries in Southeast Europe, dedicated to preserving medieval tombstones known as stećci (bosn., stećak sg.) which are part of UNESCO World Heritage. Over 70,000 stećci are densely scattered throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina. They are also present in Croatia, Serbia, and Montenegro, albeit to a lesser extent. Remarkably, there has been no comprehensive conservation study of these monuments to ensure their long-term preservation.

International Cooperation

STECCI aims to fill these gaps, addressing the challenge of preserving these historical monuments for future generations amid rapidly changing climates. The innovative approach of the project combines high-resolution climate scenarios, on-site scientific analyses, digitization methods, and socio-economic opportunities. The project will develop scientific methodologies based on case studies, applicable to the long-term preservation of monuments with similar characteristics across Europe. This diverse investigation spans multiple countries, including France, Austria, Malta, and Germany.

Project partner Rathgen-Forschungslabor

The Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz participates as a partner in the STECCI project through the Rathgen Forschungslabor. The laboratory examines tombstones of two Jewish cemeteries in Lower Franconia, Bavaria, fostering collaboration with monument and heritage conservators, schools, and local associations. A special focus is placed on school cooperation, actively involving students in the documentation and digital recording of tombstones. Through this collaboration, students gain practical insights into historical research and heritage conservation, making the STECCI-project a driver not only for heritage preservation but also for education and a catalyst for social engagement.