Musicians Elevate Spirits with Melodic Interludes at Turkey’s Archaeological Site

by Madonna

The sun-soaked expanse of an ancient city’s archaeological site in northwestern Turkey reverberates not only with the echoes of the past but also with the vibrant strains of music. A unique camaraderie melds with the toil of excavation, as a group of skilled musicians interweave their artistry into the rigors of their labor, punctuating their demanding shovel work with uplifting mini-concerts during respite.

Amidst the historical embrace of Prusias ad Hypium, an antiquity tracing its origins to the 3rd century BC, the ensemble of four brothers and two kindred spirits, engaged in diligent labor, transforms moments of rest into captivating performances. Nestled within the province of Duzce, their spirited compositions serve as a balm to the searing sun and the demanding exertions inherent to the archaeological endeavor.


Moments of solace during tea and lunch breaks become a canvas for their musical expression. Their collective melody emanates from instruments diverse in form yet united in their resonance: a clarinet, a violin, the evocative qanun with its trapezoidal strings, and the rhythmic darbuka drum, reverberating through skillful handplay.


Their harmonious interludes often attract the local community, who gather to savor the auditory delight spun by these artisans of sound. These minstrels, known as the Keman Brothers, who traverse both municipal and traditional military bands like Duzce and the Mehteran, imbue their labor with an ineffable charm.


Muhammed Keman, the clarinetist of the group, elucidated their motivation, sharing, “In the intermissions of our labor, we embrace music to invigorate our spirits. It serves as both motivation and reward, a harmony that fuels our pursuit.”

Ibrahim Karalmaz, the site’s overseer from the municipality, acknowledged the transformative influence of these musical interludes. He remarked, “Archaeological undertakings are a test of endurance, further intensified by the unforgiving climate. Our companions tirelessly wield shovels and wheelbarrows. In the midst of this arduous labor, they create an oasis of melody, easing fatigue and inspiring themselves. It is an amalgamation of entertainment, motivation, and self-improvement. Our labor, while strenuous, is harmoniously enriched.”

Yalcin Keman, the eldest of the brothers and a violinist, encapsulated the essence of their musical journey, stating, “Within these intervals of unity, our melodies resonate. Music is the vessel through which our emotions flow. It is a legacy woven through generations, each member of our family wielding a distinct instrument. I, myself, am the keeper of the violin’s melody, a mantle passed down from our forebears to our successors.”


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