The Cemetery of Dobropoljana as an Archaeological and
Genealogical record
Lolita Nikolova

Since 2001, upon request of Price & Assoc. (Salt Lake City, Utah), I have been researching the
genealogy of Kressimir Cosic, one of the most popular Croatian sport-players in the USA. The
documentation in depth of his genealogy began in the Family History Library – the largest in the
world library on family history, and continued with several field trips in Zadar, Croatia (Maticna kniga
Dobropoljana 1825-1888). During the field trip in 2007 I was able to visit the cemetery of
Dobropoljana on the island of Pašman and to make a photodocumentation of the graves.

The small graveyard is located on the left side of the road before entering Dobropoljana coming from
Ugljan. It is not far from the Adriatic see and easy accessible. The graves are located in rows. We
began to document them from north to south. Most of the gravetombs include information, which
was easy to read. In some cases the old and the new grave markers were preserved as the old ones
were usually wooden crosses.

Recently the archaeologists have been expanding their interest in the so-called contemporary past – a
term which definition and scholar contents are still open for discussion and updates (Buchli and
Lukas 2001). From the perspectives of the contemporary archaeological past, documenting
cemeteries is not only a genealogical but also an archaeological project in terms of collecting
systematic material records about the most recent past. Traditionally, the cemetery archaeology is
one of the main branches of archaeology, but in most of the cases it is understood as excavating
graves. However, as we do have survey archaeology which focus is documenting archaeological sites
(usually destroyed or partially preserved), the recent and active cemeteries should be also accepted
as an archaeological record since the last have been changing constantly by disappearing of older
graves and appearance of new ones. The contemporary cemeteries bridge archaeology and
genealogy as anthropological crossing disciplines.

In our case it will be interesting to see how the cemetery of Dobropoljana would change in 5, 10 and
or 15 years and especially which part of documented information will disappear. Such project is
important also as a simulation model even for prehistoric research, since usually it is accepted that
the prehistoric cemeteries give full information for the population during certain period of time.
It is pity that there are missing most of the later 19th century church records from Dobropoljana (see
Maticna kniga Dobropoljana 1825-1888), although there are civil registration records, which I am not
able to research for the time being. So, there is a gap between the church records and most of the
graves on the cemetery, but some of the deceased from Cosic lines can be connected based on the
available information. Also, there are few graves that belong to residents of Dobropoljana born
before 1888. Then, we can check to see whether they were born in Dobropoljana, as well as the
maiden names of the married women.

To clarify the peculiarity of the cemetery of Dobropoljana, we need to stress on the fact that just in
one case the maiden name of the married women was documented on the grave stone. Then, the
family names of the women are after their husbands and not their maiden names. This is a common
tradition in the Balkans the women usually to change their names after the marriage. However, we
should mention the fact, that there are some cases in the region of Pasman when the males changed
their names after the maiden names of their wives. But this matrilocal tradition is very exception.

Dobropoljana cemetery is a very important anthropological record because of the relatives of the
world celebrity Kressimir Cosic who were buried there. However, by the documentation and  
publication of the cemetery (Nikolova 2009) we contribute to the genealogy not only of Kressimir
Cosic, but also of the Dobropoljana community.

References

Buchli, Victor and Gavin Lukas (eds) Archaeologies of Contemporary Past. Routledge. New York.

--- Matična knjiga, 1825-1888. Rimokatolička crkva. Župa Dobropoljana. Rođeni 1825-1850; Vjenčani 1825-1857; Umrli 1825-1856; Rođeni
1851-1888 .

Nikolova, Lolita 2009 (in print). The Cemetery of Dobropoljana, Croatia. Field Trip in September 2007. International Institute of
Anthropology. Salt Lake City (Genealogy of Europe at the International Institute of Anthropology No. 1).

Nikolova, Lolita 2007-2008. Dobropoljana cemetery. http://www.iianthropology/dobropoljana1 (visited on 27th November 2008).

Nikolova, Lolita 2005. Notes on Theoretical Anthropology and Genealogy as Fields of Anthropology. In: Nikolova, Lolita, John Fritz and Jude
Higgins (eds.) 2005 Prehistoric Archaeology & Theoretical Anthropology and Education. Reports of Prehistoric Research Projects 5-6, 107-
109.

Nikolova, Lolita, John Fritz and Jude Higgins (eds.) 2005 Prehistoric Archaeology & Theoretical Anthropology and Education. Reports of
Prehistoric research Projects 5-6, 107-109.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15,
16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23
Contemporary Past:
The Cemetery of
Dobropoljana, Croatia
Photodocumentation of the graves: