Nebeske stolice Celestial Chairs Site Kopaonik Mt

Nebeske stolice (Celestial chairs) or Crkvina locality on Kopaonik Mountain is the archaeological site from the Late Antiquity (3rd /4th century) and the early Christian period (end of the 5th / 6th century) on the top of the Kopaonik Mountain peak. The Nebeske stolice – Celestial Chairs archaeological site is located at an altitude of 1800 meters, right beneath the Pančić peak on Kopaonik Mountain (2017 meters) in central Serbia which in the past was named the King Milutin peak. This location is set at the administrative point with Kosovo and Metohija Province from where spreads magic mountainous panorama to one part of Kosovo and Metohija and the South Serbia.

The site of Nebeske stolice was named after the poetical toponym which designates the elevation in whose foothill it is situated, actually the name comes after the cliffs that visually dominate the entire surroundings which have long ago, in 1885, inspired the General Mišić to name it so. Despite the fact that remains of the Nebeske stolice sacred structures were covered by layers of earth for centuries, there is live memory in the local population on the site dedicated to the Great martyr Saint Procopius, which they visit with lighted candles every saint’s feast day, on the 8th/21st July. Veneration of St Procopius is clearly based on the fact that the Saint Procopius was great martyr killed for Christianity during the ruthless Roman persecutions against Christians of Emperor Diocletian, but was also protector of miners.

During the excavations at the Nebeske stolice site started in 1998, the archaeologists have found the remains of structures and a representative early-Christian basilica with a specific form featuring a beautiful early Christian mosaic in its interior, which once had covered the whole surface of the naos. The Nebeske stolice church features complex base which consists of the narthex, naos, and a double apses – the northern part and the southern annex. The discovered fragment of the mosaic (2.70 m long and 0.51 m wide) was in a very poor condition, due to weather conditions and the fire damage that occurred at some point of time in its history. Preserved part of the mosaic represents the borderline, actually the frieze divided into fields with geometric and zoo-morphic motifs, of which are bird, which as in other Christian compositions, has its symbolic value connected with the spiritual world. The Early-Chiristian artisits paid attention to the symbols of motifs, but also to colors, and had used white, red and dove gray, that all represent eternity and transcendental. During the archaeological works carried out at the Nebeske stolice site – the Celestial Chairs site, the mosaic was removed from the site and transferred to the conservation, and the plan is to put a copy of it in its original place later on. Traces of medieval structures and upgrades, or other remains from that era, were not detected at the Nebeske stolice site, which is why it is believed that after the demolition / abandonment the complex has never been used again. Writers who visited Kopaonik had recorded routes of the Medieval roads that most possibly were based on the antiquity routes, along which there were settlements.

During the works on the Nebeske stolice site – the Celestial chairs archaeological site, 96 coins were found: 16 from the third century, 1 tetrarchy follis, 17 from the time of Constantine I (306-337), 16 from the time of Constantius II (337-361), 17 from the time of Valentinian I (364 – 375), Valens (364-378) and Gratian (378-379), 8 from the period from 378 (Invasion of the Goths) to about 441 (Hun invasions), 1 from the 6th century and 21 unidentified coins due to their poor condition. Coins found at the Celestial Chairs during excavations testify about existence of life at the locality from the 3rd til the 6th century. As per results of the previous excavations, researchers assume that on the spot of the Nebeske stolice site was a significant cult in the 5th-6th century, which distinguished its importance by the particular position on the top of the mountain. Considering the geographic and climatic features of the terrain, researchers also assume that during the Early-christian period here used to be an important spiritual center, while the settlement has been established little lower.