The Devon Karst Research Society.
Part 3.  Eastern Herzegovina.
"The Priest's Polje",...F-BiH Neum Canton - Ravno Municipality.
and RS-BiH Trebinje Region - Trebinje Municipality.
Homepage for the series of Webpages dedicated to Popovo Polje.
Updated 05 January 2011.
Image PP1. (above).  A view looking east of the Lug zaravan (karst corrosional plateau) in the upper polje area,
with the river channel of the Trebišnjica on the northern side of the polje floor.
Popovo Polje Homepage Contents :-
Section 1.0. Introduction. (opposite).
Section 1.1. General Description.
Section 1.2. INDEX of Links to all other Popovo Polje Webpage Sections.
Section 1.3. Bibliography.
Click on the underlined Links above to move down to the Sections more quickly.
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Click on this Link to view Archive Video of Popovo Polje.
(Status :  Inactive. Monochome b/w)

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Section 1.0.  INTRODUCTION  -  UVOD  -  УВОД :

Popovo Polje represents a very large karst area with a tremendous quantity of interesting features and locations. As such, we have decided to develop its Webpages from the initial stages, in much the same way as we have done with those covering Fatničko Polje elsewhere on this Website, with many Sections covering the different aspects of this hydrologically very dynamic karst polje. As a result, the Popovo Polje Webpages will be extensive but will not include any mention or details of Proteus anguinus or other endemic hypogean Habitats, which are specifically dealt with in a special separate Project elsewhere on this Website. This will become apparent by substantive gaps in the details and information provided about this karst polje and some of its features.
For those geomorphologically sub-divided areas of Trebinjsko Polje and Mokro Polje at the eastern end of the main polje, separate Webpages are also provided. 
In terms of political administration, this polje is divided between the two Political Entities of "Federation-" and "Republika Srpska-" Bosnia & Herzegovina. This situation continues to cause great inconvenience in regards to access and access-control methods, systems and philosophies. The inter-political-entity boundary is 1 km wide and is well defined in the appropriate literature issued by the International Management Group.

We class the area as "very sensitive".
In more practical terms, we should point out that there are numerous obscured ammunition dumps in the Strujići to Koteži area and un-cleared minefields and mined buildings in certain parts of the Polje from Zavala to beyond
Ravno further west and in Trebinjsko Šuma either side of the former front-line areas. Additionally, there is widespread occurrence of sundry unexploded ordnance both on the surface and underground. Concrete bunkers in the former
front-line areas invariably contain unexploded munitions and may also be mined. Mine warning signs are not always in evidence.

Below, at the bottom of this page, we provide an Index of Links to the numerous Sections, each of which will be individually available as soon as the content has been compiled to that of a sufficient quantity where the information is at a useful level. An additional note is required to explain the presence of Section 7. of the Popovo Polje Webpages. Whilst the concept of Ponor Mills is, in itself, of great interest, the driving force behind the logging of data in connection with these interesting structures is their inherent connection with the karst underground, insofar as many of them are portals into caves and shafts. There is such a level of general interest in these structures in their own right, that we have decided to include a gazetteer of those known to us. With its base structure now sufficiently complete, we have published the Popovo Polje Ponor Mills Webpage at the early stage of its construction. Further data will be added as and when it becomes available.

Image PP2...Dawn in Popovo Polje looking east from Veličani towards Hum and the Orjen Massif beyond
(Photo :  Gergely Balázs, 0744 hrs., 04 November 2005.)

Image PP4...Philipp Ballif's original Austro-Hungarian Canal draining the Luka Estavelles.
The image indicates the position of his original weir at the downstream end of the canal at the confluence with the River Trebišnjica, shown crossing right to left in the view.
(Photo :  B. Lewarne, 28 August 2006.)

Image PP5...Popovo Polje looking north-east along Luka Estavelle Zone towards Strujići and Do.
The main Popovo Polje area is directly behind the photographer.
(Photo :  Dianovszki Tibor, 04 November 2005.)

Image PP6...A typical "Vrelo"-type karst spring in flood conditions, Trebinjsko Polje.
(Photo :  Dubravko Kurtović, 24 November 2002.)

Popovo Polje (with Trebinjsko Polje) :
This Homepage serves as a brief illustrated introduction to the many "moods", characteristics, history and culture of this incredible karst area.
We hope that this Popovo Polje Homepage will whet your appetite further to explore its associated Webpages as they become available.
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This very large karst polje is situated in the Dinaric Karst of Eastern Herzegovina. The nearest large urban conurbations are the towns of Trebinje in the eastern end of the Polje and Hutovo just beyond the far western end. The settlement of Ravno is situated above the southern rim of the polje-floor about two-thirds of the way along its length in a downstream direction. Although designated with the status of the principal town of a Municipality, it lacks most of the services or infrastructure that would be normally associated with such a place. Prior to the Bosnian War of the 1990's, this was nothing more than a large village settlement. It is currently under re-development, having been almost completely destroyed by military action during the recent War.

The Austro-Hungarian Karst Engineer Philipp Ballif (1896).gives us an analysis of the polje-floor useage at the time of his survey of the area. He divides the polje into separately named areas or parts, which continue to be accepted in geographical terms today, as indicated in sub-Section 1.1.2. below. We have translated his report as follows......
"Trebinjsko- und Čičevopolje -..extremely fertile and productive soil with 60% of the area under cultivation; 20% meadows and 20% pasture. All is Corn crops, Viticulture and Tobacco cultivation.
..Lug und  Žuma -..mostly karst ground with underwood, pasture and solitary parcels of cultivation.
..Popovopolje -..The plain of Popovopolje is cut by the "Trebinjčica" which specifically fertilizes the good cultivated ground. 70% of the area is under cultivation;15% is pasture and the rest is unproductive."

Philipp Ballif studied this polje and had plans to hydro-meliorate it. He undertook the preliminary engineering works for this but the overall concept never happened, although he did install the first water-guaging stations. Some of the evidence of his preliminary work for the hydro-melioration of Popovo Polje, which has not been destroyed by the HET Co., still survives today.
An instance of such work is evidenced at Strujička Luka on the north side of the polje where the road from Trebinje rounds a long bend towards Strujići on the east side of the Luka "inlet". "Luka" literally means "bay" 
and here during the wet winter months, the considerable total output of water from the estavelles in Luka would flood the entire area out to the main polje, giving the impression of a bay inlet to one side of the flooded main polje-floor. Austro-Hungarian Karst Engineer Philipp Ballif's work in the Luka area ensured that the polje-floor here (=locally Strujičko Polje; Koteško Polje etc.) would be meliorated from the flooding. He constructed a lengthy canal with embankments which was built on the polje-floor tight against the foot of the mountainous west wall of Luka. Here were many estavelles whose output was collected in his stone-lined canal and carried straight to the Trebišnjica River in the middle of the main polje to the south. Where the confluence of his canal and the Trebišnjica occurred, he built a weir to prevent back-flow to the estavelles from the Trebišnjica River, for the most part terminating the "ponor mode" of the estavelles' hydrological functionality. His original canal has been modified but largely exists today and continues to perform well!
Image PP3. (left).
Philipp Balllif's original Survey Point Marker at point 0.0  in front of the main entrance to Estavela Baba at the head of the Austro-Hungarian Canal draining Luka.
(Photo :  B. Lewarne, 28 August 2006.)
The Society continues to record the surviving historical evidence of not only Popovo Polje but of all of the Historical area of Eastern Hercegovina in ancient Hum. The photographic and documented evidence we have accumulated is far too great to include in these webpages. Below, we give a short insight of some of the types of surviving human heritage that survive. 
Austro-Hungarian Heritage, 1878-1918 :
Apart from the previously mentioned hydro-melioration infrastructure of Austro-Hungarian origin, the former Imperium also built many fortifications and other military infrastructure, much of which survives today. Typical are the many fortresses and Garrisons (mainly in the Trebinjsko Polje area), military roads and the ubiquitous remnants of the Popovo Polje Railway system, which was dismantled under the former Yugoslav regime. There are also many instances of water-management, -extraction and -control structures, most of which remain in excellent working condition. All this to support an enormous military build-up in the four decades preceding the outbreak of World War 1. The Austro-Hungarian Empire expanded and used Trebinje as a major garrison town and in this City are fine examples of many different types of their constructions. They even modified parts of the existing walls of the old fortified town (Stari grad) to meet their own requirements.
Ottoman Heritage, 1463-1877 :
The polje is scattered with many remnants of an even earlier period of Occupation - that of the Turkish Empire. Here and there from the centre of the polje eastwards are the ruins of "Kule" (Defensive Towers) located at strategic places overlooking the Ottoman military and highway infrastructure. There is now scant evidence of much of this infrastructure, which has either been dismantled, neglected or has just become lost in the undergrowth. Some of the more significant Turkish Heritage in Trebinje was purposely demolished by the more politically fervent of the local population during the Bosnian War of the 1990's. Here and there are signs of old Turkish Bridges and ancient cobbled trading roads. In one place at Staro Slano is a complete "Palanka" or "palace" complex originally built and owned by a Turkish Nobleman. Then there is the fine Arslanagića Most, straddling the River Trebišnjica in Trebinje. It was relocated from its original position further upstream by the HET Co. before it would have become drowned beneath the artificial impoundment of the Gorica Jezero. The Old walled Town (Stari grad) of Trebinje was a major Ottoman cultural centre. Unfortunately, decades of on-going alterations by the former Yugoslav regime to the traditional Ottoman shop fronts has meant that evidence of this colourful history, which would have been of great interest to tourists, has largely been obliterated.
Ancient Slavic Heritage, pre-1180 - the Mediaeval Bosnian State, 1180-1463 :
There are two outstanding types of examples of Old Slavic Culture in Herzegovina. The first is of Defensive Towers, similar in design to the Ottoman "Kule" but recognisably different in their details. An example of this is "Kula Brankovića" or the Branković Tower overlooking the Gornje Police urban district of Trebinje on the lower north-western slopes of Golo Brdo. 
The second and more famous type are the "Stećci" (single = "Stećak") or tombstones, filling ancient cemeteries or necropolises with their unique, highly decorated forms. More than 58 000 have been recorded in modern surveys. In the past, many historians have sourced these to the ancient "Bogomil Culture" but through rational study, this theory has become discredited. Without doubt, most of these monuments have their origin during the period of the Bosnian Mediaeval State and show a range of Christian and secular devices representative of the elite ruling classes of the time. Some actually state that they are monuments to "Gosti" or senior Members of the then Bosnian Church. It has been suggested that some of the scripts on these represent the use of either the "Glagolithic" Script or the old "Bosančica" language or even "Old Church Slavonic", using a specifically Bosnian variety of script which differed from Cyrillic. In the matter of evaluating these scripts we are presently engaged with local people and specialists in Sarajevo. There are many examples of these "Stećci" in the village cemeteries (= "groblja") of Popovo Polje. There is a notion and a growing recognition that these "Stećci".may have more than just a passing connection with the Old Bosnian Church which was largely obliterated by the invasive religious activities of the Mediaeval Monastic Franciscan agents of the Roman Catholic Church because of its supposed heretical though monotheistic practices. 
Roman Heritage :
Examples of Roman built heritage are slowly being uncovered. Again, the old town walls of Trebinje's Stari grad give evidence of early Roman construction and in Petrovo Polje, part of Mokro Polje, there are current archaeological excavations being undertaken on a Roman complex. Although there is an increasing amount of Roman Roads also coming to light, we are sad to report that the Trebinje Municipality is permitting the destruction of much Roman archaeology through uncontrolled urbanization.
Illyrian, Post-Illyrian and Celtic Heritage :
There are many stone burial mounds (tumuli) all over Hercegovina, locally referred to as "Gomila". These are thought to be evidence of Illyrian Culture. In Popovo Polje there are many examples, which are best seen in the winter period before they become masked by the summer vegetation. At present, these represent the earliest known man-made structures in Popovo Polje.

Popovo Polje Statistics..-..Historical vs. Modern :
Historical Statistics..(according to Philipp Ballif) : Historical Statistics..(according to Jovan Cvijić) : Modern Statistics..(according to M. Bašagić) :
Polje-floor Elevation  =  275 - 225m. asl.
..................................(902 - 738 ft asl.).
Polje-floor Elevation  = Polje-floor Elevation  =  270 - 220m.asl.
..................................(886 - 722 ft asl.).
.....................-.Zaravan (Trebinjska Šuma + Lug) 
.......................= 270 - 250m.asl.
Total Area  =  185 km².  /  18 500 ha.  /  45 714 acres.
.....................-.Trebinjsko- u. Čičevopolje =  18km².
.....................-.Žuma und Lug =  117km².
.....................-.Popovopolje =  50km².
Total Area  = Total Area  =  181 km².  /  18 100 ha.  /  44 726 acres.
.....................-.Zaravan (Trebinjska Šuma + Lug) 110km² - 120km², according to various writers.
.....................-.Poljica - Ponikve 70km².
Type  =  Closed Karst Polje.
Drainage system  = ponors only.
Type  = Length  =  60 km.
Average width  =  3.0 km.
Type  =  Closed Karst Polje.
Drainage system  = ponors only.

Image PP7. (above-left)...A typical opening of a large deep shaft or "Jama" in Popovo Polje, seen here below an Austro-Hungarian Military Road in the lower-centre of the view...(Photo :  B. Lewarne, 01 September 2003.)
Image PP8. (above-rightt)...Finding and negotiating such shafts or "Jame" require the specialist knowledge of the local speleological society, not only in negotiating the local difficulties but also for safety reasons in the event of an accident.

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Image PP9...Brankovića Kula, an Old Slavic fortification (ca 12th Century) in Trebinje,
also seen as an aerial view in Image PP10. adjacent-right.
(Photo :  B. Lewarne, 11 August 2006.)

..........Image PP10. (above-left)...Brankovića Kula, an Old Slavic fortification (ca 12th Century) in Trebinje, as seen from the air. Old Slavic fortification towers were round. The equivalent Turkish "Kula" were square or rectangular.
..........Image PP11. (above-right)...Gomila or Illyrian stone burial mounds in the foreground above selo Todorići,.Trebinje, overlooking Trebinjsko Polje...(Photo :  B. Lewarne, 11 August 2006.)

Image PP12...A view looking in a north-east direction from Trebinje upstream along the Rijeka Trebišnjica
towards the relocated Arslanagića Most.
Crossing the picture left-to-right behind the bridge is a section of the extant Austro-Hungarian Railway.
(Photo :  Bogdan Prelević, March 2002.)
Popovo Polje is morphologically sub-divided into sections. Its karst river - Rijeka Trebišnjica (formerly Trebinjčica) - is the largest sinking river (=ponornice) in Europe. This river travels the full length of the polje. An ancient trading road or Karavanski put the "Veliki put" (=Great Road) can also be traced in places along the length of the polje-floor.

Trebinjsko Polje :
Beginning at the eastern (upstream) end, there is Trebinjsko Polje, (Trebinje Polje) which itself has a further morphological subdivision of Mokro Polje (this is Philipp Ballif's "Čičevopolje") located in the far eastern corner of Trebinjsko Polje. 

Trebinjska Šuma :
Moving further downstream in a north-west direction is Trebinjska Šuma (Trebinje Forest) situated between Mokro Polje in the east and Lug further west. This is where the polje is at its maximum width. The vegetative cover in Trebinjska Šuma is not what one might expect to see as implied by its name. The soil cover here is very minimal and the vegetation is primarily composed of dwarf trees, bushes and thickets. The growth of trees is stunted both by the general lack of water and the minimal soil cover. This is tree-covered exokarst and is mostly impenetrable off the beaten track. The situation is less severe towards the south-east of the Šuma in the direction of Začula and beyond.

Lug :
Moving westwards and downstream along the polje, there is then the large "zaravan" or karst plateau from Lug, where the Lug karst corrosional plain becomes apparent. This extends westwards down along the polje until the narrower mid part of the polje-floor is encountered, where there is then continuous alluvial cover. The Serbian word "Lug" is a diminutive form of Šuma meaning small forest or "Šumica". Lug is certainly covered with shrubs and bushes more so than the dwarf trees of Trebinjska Šuma to the east.
A section of the aforementioned "Veliki put" can be traced here, crossing along the length of Lug from Arbanaška to Poljice-Popovo.

Popovo Polje:
Poljice is where Popovo Polje per se begins. Some karstologists do not include the Trebinjsko Polje, Mokro Polje, Trebinjska Šuma and Lug areas in their perception and geographical descripion of Popovo Polje - but as with the majority, we do. All of these areas are clearly within the same karst geomorphological unit even though they each exhibit a different and characteristic surface morphological appearance.
The polje very gently slopes down towards the north-west and the thickness of its alluvial cover increases accordingly in this direction. Where the alluvial cover begins In the mid part of the polje, it is 1-2 m. (3½-6½ ft.) thick, reaching a thickness of 15-20m. (49-66 ft.) in the lowest part of the polje at its western end in the terminal ponor zone. This is where the polje is at its narrowest.
As the River Trebišnjica passes the village of Grmljani on its left bank the polje-floor widens out considerably on both sides. The village of Zavala on the left-side indent is situated at the north foot of a considerable valley that heads off southwards in an initial upward climb towards the Adriatic Sea, whilst on the right side, the indent is narrower but more marked and terminates near the village of Strujići. The former indent is known as Vala, whilst the latter indent is referred to as Strujička Luka.

Geophysical profiling of the polje-floor undertaken by the HET Co. (Trebinje) in the lowest areas of the polje floor near Hutovo, have revealed a buried palaeo-karstic relief with typical karren-forms and ponors.

Image PP13...A cross-section of the thick alluvial deposits as seen in a part of the old streambed
of the River Trebišnjica near the Ponikve Ponor Zone.
(Photo :  M. Hardman, 05 August 2000.)

Image PP14...An aerial photograph of the Ponikve Ponor Zone in the Lower Polje area of Popovo Polje.
The original meandering natural course of the River Trebišnjica is here seen separated from the man-made regulated river-course, permanently delivering water to the HPP Čapljina Co. "Hutovo Compensation Basin". 

Image PP15...A misty Popovo Polje looking north-west from Hum above Pridvorci to Trebinjska Šuma.
(Photo :  B. Lewarne, 05 September 2006.)

Images PP16 and 17...A misty Popovo Polje looking west along Trebinjska Šuma (Trebinje Forest) from Hum above Pridvorci to Hum.
(Photos :  B. Lewarne, 05 September 2006.)

Image PP18...Popovo Polje looking east from Ravno to Rijeka Trebišnjica is on the right in the view.
(Photo :  Igor Trklja, 09 September 2006.)
Image PP19. and 20...Moving towards the western end of Popovo Polje looking west are (left image) the village of Velja Međa. (Photo :  Igor Trklja, 09 September 2006)
and (right image) Hutovo Reservoir (HET Compensation Basin) at the far end of Popovo Polje, (Photo :  B. Lewarne, 19 July 2004).

Image PP21...The entrance to Vjetrenica Pećina (Wind Cave), formerly the only Public Show Cave in
Popovo Polje and in all the karst of Bosnia Herzegovina!
(Photo :  Igor Trklja, 09 September 2006.)

Image PP22...Early morning in Popovo Polje looking south across the polje floor from Veličani.
(Photo :  Gergely Balázs, 0813 hrs., 04 November 2005.)


Section 1.  General Description  -  Generalni Opis  -  Генерални Опис : (Given on this Webpage).
Section 2.  Karst Hydrology & Hydrogeology  -  Hidrologija i Hidrogeologija Karsta  -  Хидрологија и Хидрогеологија Карста :
Section 3.  Karst Springs  -  Kraški Izvori i Vrela  -  Крашки Извори и Врело :
Section 4.  Rivers & Streams  -  Rijeke i Potoci  -  Ријеке и Потоци :
Section 5.  The Periodic Lake  -  Periodično Jezero  -  Периодично Језеро :
Section 6.  Ponors  -  Ponori  -  Понори :
Section 7.  Ponor Mills  -  Ponor mlinice  -  Понор млинови  :
Section 8.  Estavelles  -  Estavele  -  Еставеле :
Section 9.  Shafts & Caves  -  Jame i Pećine -  Јаме и Пећине :
Section 10.  Dolines & Uvalas  -  Vrtače i Uvale  -  Вртаче и Увале :
Section 11.  Anthropogenic Impact  -  Antropogenski Udar  -  Антропогенски Удар :
Section 12.  Flora  -  Flora  -  Флора :
Section 13.  Fauna  -  Fauna  -  Фауна :


Section 1.3.  Popovo Polje
( *.denotes that the Bibliographic reference is a Stock item in the Society's Reference Library.)
The subject of Popovo Polje has been dealt with in countless publications. Here is a small selection spanning a time-frame of 114 years.

1.  Ballif, Philipp (1896) *  "Wasserbauten in Bosnien und der Hercegovina.  1. Theil - Meliorationsarbeiten und Cisternen im Karstgebiete."
Published by :  Verlag von Adolf Holzhausen, WIEN, Österreich.
2.  Bašagić, Mirza (1996)"Geomorfološka Interpretacija Geološko-(Neo)Tektoskih Odnosa Istočna Hercegovina."
[Doktorska Disertacija] Published by :  Univerzitet u Tuzli, Rudarsko-Geološki Fakultet, SARAJEVO, R. Bosna i Hercegovina, pp. 241-246.
3.  Cvijić Jovan (1926) * "Геоморфологија." Књига Друга.
Published by :  Државна Штампарија Краљевине Срба, Хрвата и Словенаца, БЕОГРАД.
4.  Groller M. (1889)  "Das Popovo Polje in der Herzegovina."
in :  Mittheilungen d. Geograph. Geselsch., WIEN, Österreich.
5.  Grund, A. (1910) *  "Das Karstphänomen."
in :  Geologische Charakterbilder, 3 Heft, Tafel 6., (Polje. Das Popovopolje in der Herzegowina.)
Published by :  Verlag von Gebrüder Borntraeger, BERLIN, Germany.
6.  Mijatović, B.F. (1984) *  "Hydrogeology of the Dinaric Karst."
as :  International Contributions to Hydrogeology, Vol. 4.
Published by :  International Association of Hydrogeologists..
7.  Milanović, P.T. (1971)   "An attempt at defining the routes of the Karst System of Ponikve in Popovo Polje."
in :  Bull. Scient., Section A., 16. 3/4.  BEOGRAD, NR. Srbija, FSR Jugoslavija.
8. Milanović, P.T. (1983) *  "Uticaj hidrosistema Trebišnjice na režim površinskih i podzemnih voda u Popovom Polju."
in :  Naš krš, IX. 14-15. pp. 41-62.
Published by :  Speleološko društvo "Bosansko-hercegovački krš", SARAJEVO, NR. Bosna i Hercegovina.
9.  Mladenović, Joca. (1965) *  "Influence de la structure géologique sur la composition chimique des eaux souterraines dans la zone de Popovo Polje."
in :  Proceedings of the Dubrovnik Symposium on Hydrology of Fractured Rocks, Vol. 2. pp. 645-653.
Published jointly by :  International Assoc. Hydrol. Sciences and UNESCO.
10.  Sweeting, M.M. (1972) *  "Karst Landforms."
Published by :  Macmillan Press Ltd., LONDON, UK., pp. 193.,197 and 324.
11.  Vlahinić, Mihovil. (2004) *  "Poljoprivredno-Melioracijska i Agrohidrološka Monografija Popova Polja."
as :  ANU BiH Monografija LXXXVII., Vol. 6.
Published by :  Akademija nauka i umjetnosti BiH., Odjeljenje za prirodne i matematičke nauke, SARAJEVO, Bosna i Hercegovina.
12.  Zötl, Josef G. (1974) *  "Karsthydrogeologie."
Published by :  Springer Verlag, WIEN, Österreich., pp. 181-182.

Background Photo PP23.. by the "Proteus Project's" Hungarian Cave Diving and Technical Support Team, November 2005.

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