Ternate, N Maluku (ANTARA) - North Maluku is the kilometer zero of the world's spice route since the region has long been blessed with abundant spices, even prior to Indonesian independence, Vice President Ma'ruf Amin has said.

"North Maluku attracted a lot of traders from various regions even before the Europeans came to the Nusantara (archipelago)," he noted at a seminar on tracing Enrique of Malacca’s world spice route.

The seminar entitled “The First World Traveler from Tidore” was held in Ternate, North Maluku, on Thursday.

Amin said ancient literature recorded that spices from the archipelago had helped shape world civilization since thousands of years ago.

Researchers found a handful of cloves in a burnt ceramic pot, which was estimated to date back to 1721 BCE, on the banks of the Euphrates River in Syria, the Vice President noted.

The finding came as proof of old trading activities originating from the Nusantara archipelago, since cloves are native to the Maluku islands, he said.

As spice trading activities increased over time, the trading route to the archipelago eventually came to be known as “The Spice Route,” he added.

According to Amin, the trade of spices native to Maluku, mostly cloves, was managed by the Moloku Kie Raha Kingdom, which consisted of the four sultanates of Ternate, Tidore, Bacan, and Jailolo.

Historians have also recorded that the development of “The Spice Route” was inseparable from the involvement of Enrique of Malacca, who, some historians suspect, came from the Maluku islands, he added.

Enrique was a helper who accompanied Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan during Magellan’s 1519 Spanish expedition to the Maluku islands by sailing around the American continent, he said.

Some historians suspect that after Magellan died in a battle in the Philippines, Enrique continued with the journey until he arrived back in Tidore, Maluku islands, and was considered to have successfully circumnavigated the world, Amin noted.

The success of the Moloku Kie Raha Kingdom and Enrique in the past should not only become a tale for the children of Indonesia, but also an encouragement to revive the glory of North Maluku, he remarked.

Studying the historical and cultural richness of various regions in Indonesia would certainly strengthen the community’s pride in the national identity, he added.

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Translator: Abdul Fatah, Uyu Liman
Editor: Anton Santoso
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