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ŠUMARSKI LIST 7-8/2021 str. 36     <-- 36 -->        PDF

archival documents which were made use of by Kesterčanek. Foresters have tended to highlight the French effort to restore Dalmatian degraded woodlands and among the initiatives to achieve this was the establishment of the so-called sacri boschi. Sacro bosco is an Italian term that originates from the time when Italian was still the official language in Dalmatia and was used by the administration and aristocrats, whereas Croatian was used only by the common people until 1883 when it became official for the whole of Dalmatia (Obad, 1976). Kesterčanek (1882a) was the first who translated the term sacro boscho as sveti gaj which means sacred grove, and this was later adopted by foresters in the 20th century. Beside several archival documents that have been mentioned ever since Kesterčanek, which describe the French establishment of these sacred groves, little is known about what these woods were like and perhaps more importantly, what happened to them. Ambiguity about the proper translation of sacro bosco still exists as Meštrović et al. (2011) translate it as crkvene šume or church forests. Also, these woodlands should not be confused with the sacred groves that according to Matić (2012) were established throughout Croatia in ancient times. Research by Chandran and Hughes (2000) and Watkins (2018) confirms that throughout Mediterranean small patches of forests were proclaimed as sacred groves in Greek and Roman times and they were protected from exploitation as it was believed that the location was inhabited by gods or spirits.
According to the existing literature, the sacred groves discussed in this paper were established by the French and represented a new element in the landscape and a new form of forest management. Kesterčanek (1882a), later on supported by Marčić (1935) and Vajda (1954), argued that these sacred groves were neglected by the Austrian Empire once they took over Dalmatia, and were destroyed so they disappeared from forest history sources. The aim of this paper is to contribute to understanding of Dalmatian forest history by exploring the origins and the demise of the so-called sacred groves.
This research represents a critical analysis of archival sources, publications and maps from the 19th century and is focusing on the area of Šibenik as a case study. Šibenik area is located in the transitional zone between central and northern Dalmatia and it shares many historical and social characteristics with the rest of coastal Dalmatia making it a good study example for the whole region. The majority of archival work was carried out in the State Archives in Šibenik (HR-DASI) where material related to woodlands is stored in three collections: Šibenik Šumarstvo, Šumarstvo and Hortikultura: Šibenski perivoj/Šumarstvo. All sources are written in old Italian which was