Interactive map of Palmyrene people in the diaspora

This project aims to conduct a census of the diaspora Palmyrene people in Turkey. We have also created a coordination group that includes the Palmyrene people, in order to look at particular issues that interest the Palmyrene refugees.

Types of activity include a questionnaire to increase understanding of the opinions of the local people in the diaspora, and the impact of the loss of their heritage and their homeland. We have carried out several different surveys, we were interviewing people from Palmyra about their opinions on documenting damage to heritage places in Palmyra and we hope to continue with this work.

The questionnaires are designed to:

  1. Locate the Palmyrene refugees in the diaspora in Turkey.
  2. Document the voices of affected people.
  3. Fill gaps in knowledge on what cultural heritage means to crises-affected people (in this, we feel it is important to include the wider community as well as heritage and archaeology professionals).
  4. Understand the impacts of heritage loss on lives and livelihoods (looking at key themes, including mental health, safety, and livelihoods) .
  5. Understand whether cultural heritage protection is a priority for crises-affected people.
  6. Support the creation of an evidence base for CPP as a humanitarian need.

Our database on Palmyrene refugees was used to create an interactive map on the Palmyrene Voices website that shows their distribution across Turkish cities. The map was developed though the open-source software QGIS, a powerful and free Geographical Information System (GIS) software to collect, store and represent spatial information to better understand the diaspora of Palmyrene families throughout Turkey. The map shows very precisely the current location of Palmyrene in Turkish administrative cities and provinces. As preliminary results, we identified that most of the families are concentrated in the southeast of the country (mainly in Gaziantep, Mersin and Hatay) and in the surrounding of Istanbul. However, other groups are located in more isolated areas. In this sense, the interactive map will be a useful tool available for Palmyrene refuges to easily detect the presence existing and new communities. The interactive map will be stored in QGIS Cloud Server and it will be freely accessible though the Palmyrene Voices website.

We also hope that, in the future, our database may be used to support their involvement in reconstruction, and – with their consent – can be used for research and issues related to the Palmyrene refugees.

The data will also support wider research on examining the evidence base for cultural heritage as a humanitarian need.

We ultimately hope to expand the project to reach all the Palmyrene refugees in the diaspora countries. Heritage for Peace will help to disseminate the results of the research through their network.