The Armenian Communities of the Northeastern Mediterranean
(Musa Dagh­Kessab­Dort-Yol)


February 29 - March 1

UCLA Armenian Studies

Department of History,
University of California
Los Angeles CA 90095-1473

Mussadaghtsi after reaching Port-Said in 1915
Sponsored by the
Armenian Educational Foundation Chair in Modern Armenian History
University of California, Los Angeles
Co-Sponsored by the UCLA
G.E. von Grunebaum Center for Near Eastern Studies,
Center for European and Eurasian Studies,
Department of History,
International Institute,
and the
 Mousa Ler Association of California,
 Kessab Educational Association of Los Angeles,
Compatriotic Union of Chork-Marzban/Dort-Yol

Friday, February 29, 2008,
7:30-9:30 p.m.

Friday Evening Session Only in Armenian:
Western Diocese of the Armenian Church,
3325 N. Glenoaks Boulevard, Burbank, California 91504
(From Golden State 5 Freeway,
BuenaVista Exit, east to Glenoaks, left-north two blocks)

- Opening
. Richard G. Hovannisian, University of California, Los Angeles

-  The Armenian Communities of the Antioch Region: From Beylan to Latakia
Hagop Tcholakian, Karen Jeppe Jemaran, Aleppo

- The Management of Catastrophes by the People of Kessab, 1909-1947
. Seda Isabelle Mavian, L'Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris

- The Armenians of Musa Dagh/Musaler and Their Oral Tradition: Synchronic and Diachronic Transformations,
. Verjiné Svazlian, Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Yerevan

Saturday, March 1, 2008, 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Sessions in English: UCLA Broad Art Center 2160E (Formerly Dickson Auditorium)
Morning Sessions: 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

Introduction: Armenians in the Northeastern Mediterranean
Richard G. Hovannisian, University of California, Los Angeles

Musa Dagh, Kessab, Dort-Yol
Views from Project SAVE Armenian Photograph Archives
Ruth Thomasian, Project SAVE Archives, Watertown, Massachusetts

The Self-Defense of Chork-Marzban/Dort-Yol, 1896-1921
Minas Kojayan, AGBU Manoogian-Demirjian High School, Canoga Park
Dort-Yol and the Armenian Genocide
Aram Arkun, Editor, Ararat
Musa Dagh in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century
Vahram Shemmassian, California State University, Northridge


Even Paradise Isn't Perfect: Memories of Kessab
Susan Pattie, University College London

Kessab as a Diasporan Community
Hagop Tcholakian, Karen Jeppe Jemaran, Aleppo
The Armenian Dialects of Musa Dagh and Kessab
Hagop Panossian, Mousaler Association of California
Hrair Atikian, Kessab Educational Association of Los Angeles

LUNCH RECESS: 1:15-2:15 p.m.

Afternoon Sessions: 2:15-5:00 p.m.

The Oral Tradition of Musa Dagh/Musaler
Sona Zeitlian, Independent Researcher, Los Angeles

Hollywood, Ankara, Washington: The Unmaking of "The Forty Days of Musa Dagh"
Ara Soghomonian, University of California, Los Angeles

Armenians and Alawites during the Alexandretta Crisis
Keith David Watenpaugh, University of California, Davis


Culture and Personality: The Case of Anjar
Herant Katchadourian, Stanford University

The Sole Armenian Village Left in Turkey:
Vakef of Musa Dagh (Samandagh) since 1939
Vahram Shemmassian, California State University, Northridge
Discussion and Concluding Remarks

Photographic Exhibit by
Richard and Anne Elizabeth Elbrecht, Davis, California

Open to the Public * No Admission Charge * Parking Structure 3, Entrance from Hilgard Avenue near Sunset Boulevard ($8.00 daily fee).
Further information: Prof. Richard Hovannisian

February 29- March 1, 2008


  • Los Angeles —A leap-year international conference on the Armenian communities of the Northeastern Mediterranean will take place on the weekend of February 29- March 1, 2008 . The seventeenth in the UCLA AEF Chair’s conference series “ Historic Armenian Cities and Provinces,” the two-day gathering will focus on region extending from Dort-Yol (Chork-Marzban) to Musa Dagh and Kessab. Serving as co-sponsors are the Mousa Ler Association of California and the Kessab Educational Association of Los Angeles, along with the UCLA Centers for Near Eastern Studies and European-Eurasian Studies, International Institute, and Department of History.

  • Participants include scholars from Armenia , France , Great Britain , Netherlands , Syria , and several institutions in the United States . The opening session in Armenian will take place on Friday evening, February 29, from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. in the Kalaydjian Hall of the Armenian Church Western Diocese at 3325 N. Glenoaks Boulevard in Burbank (Buena Visa exit from the 5 Golden State Freeway).

  • Following an introduction by Professor Richard Hovannisian, AEF Chair at UCLA, Dr. Hagop Tcholakian of Aleppo , the author of a three-volume history of Kessab, will give an overview of the Armenian communities from Beylan to Antioch and Latakia. He will be joined by Dr. Verjine Svazlian of the Armenian Institute of Archeology and Ethnography, who will discuss the oral tradition of Musa Dagh, and by Ms. Isabel Mavian, both of Paris and of Yerevan , who will examine how the people of Kessab responded to calamitous situations between 1909 and 1947.

  • The all day sessions on the UCLA campus on Saturday, March 1, from 10 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. , will be in English and take place in the refurbished Broad (formerly Dickson) Auditorium. The morning program will include an illustrated presentation by Ms. Ruth Thomasian of the Project SAVE Archives, Watertown , Massachusetts . Dr. Minas Kojoyan of the AGBU High School in Canoga Park will examine the repeated self-defense of Chork-Marzban (Dort-Yol) from 1896 to 1921, with Mr. Aram Arkun of New York City making additional comments in writing. Dr. Vahram Shemmassian of CSU Northridge will offer an overview of the history of Musa Dagh in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

  • The second morning session will feature Dr. Susan Pattie of University College London who has chosen the title, Even Paradise Isn't Perfect: Memories of Kessab.” Ms. Seda Altug, Ph.D. candidate at Utrecht University in the Netherlands , will compare the making of community identities in the Jazira and Kessab areas of Syria , while Hagop Tcholakian will speak on Kessab after becoming a diasporan community.

  • During the lunchtime intermission on March 1, brief readings and explanations of the Musa Dagh and Kessab Armenian dialects will be given by Dr. Hagop Panossian of the Mousa Ler Association and Dr. Hrair Atikian of the Kessab Educational Association.

  • In the afternoon sessions, Mrs. Sona Zeitlian will present the findings of her study on the oral tradition of Musa Dagh. Mr. Ara Soghomonian, Ph.D. student at UCLA who has investigated primary source materials on the projected filming of “The Forty Days of Musa Dagh” will reveal little known aspects of this case of Hollywood censorship. Dr. Keith Watenpaugh of UC Davis will focus on the Armenian and Alwaite responses to the Alexandretta crisis in the 1930s.

  • During the final afternoon session, Dr. Herant Katchadourian of Stanford University will speak on culture and personality, based on his field research in Anjar after the relocation there of most of the natives of Musa Dagh. Dr. Shemmassian will conclude the program with a sketch of Vakef or Samandagh, the only remaining Armenian village in Musa Dagh and in all of Turkey . As in most previous conferences in this series, Mr. Richard and Mrs. Anne Elizabeth Elbrecht of Davis , California , will mount a related photographic exhibit.

  • The conference is open to the public without charge. Parking on the UCLA campus will be in Structure 3, entrance from Hilgard Avenue near Sunset Boulevard. Daily parking fee: $8.00.

  • For further information, please e-mail Professor Hovannisian at