Musa Dagh was situated to the south-west of the biblical city of Antioch (presently Antakya in the Hatay province of Turkey) overlooking the Meiterranean Sea. It comprised six main Armenian villages: Bitias, Haji Habibli, Yoghunoluk, Kheder Beg, Vakef, and Kabusiye.

The overwhelming majority of Musa Daghians owned homes. A survey dated 11 July 1939 provides us with considerable detail respecting houses, orchards, and fields. Most probably the survey was ordered by the French and carried out by Musa Daghians to have a record of the quantity, size, and value of fixed property—as well as movable belongings and liquid assets—that the Armenians owned at the time of their exodus from the Sanjak before 23 July 1939. In the absence of attendant explanations or clarifications, the methodology and accuracy of the figures contained therein remain unverifiable. Accordingly, they are presented here with caution.

Yard of Kevork (“Aziz”) Sherbetjian home in Bitias, 1930s. This residence was also the summer government house of Musa Dagh sub-district governor Serop Sherbetjian (unrelated to Kevork Sherbetjian), who relocated from his seat and native village of Kheder Beg to Bitias during the summer months. As such, the residence had telephone and mail service (Source: Vahram Shemmassian collection, Los Angeles).

According to the above survey, Bitias had 367 houses with 907 rooms, for an average of 2.47 rooms per house. Their average value was 1,343 Syrian liras, totaling 492,880 liras. Another tabulation, also made in 1939, revealed the following picture. Of the 284 families (946 persons) in Bitias, 207 (73 percent) owned a single house each; 41 (14 percent) owned two houses each; 11 (4 percent) owned three houses each; 2 (less than 1 percent) owned four houses each. The balance of 23 families (8 percent) did not possess a residence. (See the pdf file entitled “Bitias: Fixed Property Ownership, 1939”). They were either from the poorest class occupying empty or abandoned houses (usually belonging to émigrés in the United States) without rent, returnees (one family) from America living in the home of their parents/in-laws, and or outsiders there on business. In the absence of additional information, the discrepancy of eighty-three houses between the two 1939 counts cannot be explained.

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