The Spice Route is celebrated for the massive influence it had on global trade, culture, religion, language, art, and cuisine.
Qatar Museum’s Year of Culture program and Indonesia’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Research and Technology are trying to secure UNESCO recognition for the historical and cultural treasure Spice Route.
The partners are looking to gather enough evidence for their submission to UNESCO by the upcoming year.
The Qatar-Indonesia 2023 Year of Culture and Indonesia Launch Residency Program to Explore Historical and Cultural Links Between Ancient Arabia and Nusantara announced the partnership on Tuesday.
The Spice Route, an ancient trade network that seamlessly linked Nusantara with India, China, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, is celebrated for the profound influence it had on global trade, culture, religion, language, art, and cuisine.
The term “Nusantara,” an old Javanese expression, defines the Southeast Asian regions that actively participated in maritime trade during that era.
Through the ‘Appreciation of the Cultural Actors on the Spice Route’ residency program, academics and scholars are able to travel to the countries along the historic route in order to gather tangible evidence of the Spice Route’s cultural impact.
This evidence includes archaeological remnants, historical documents, and local intangible heritage.
The first leg of this journey spans three countries, with Qatar hosting the first phase. The team of intrepid researchers, including Idris Masudi, Adimas Bayumurti, Fathurrochman Karyadi, and A. Ginanjar Sya’ban as the supervisor, will work to explore the Spice Route in these areas.
“Qatar was chosen as one of the first host countries of the residency program due to its rich collections of cultural artefacts related to Arab culture and history, and deep insights into the historical trade relations between the ancient Arab world and Nusantara,” said Hilmar Farid, Director General of Indonesia’s Culture in the Ministry of Education and Culture.
Several cultural institutions in Qatar are involved in the residency program, granting researchers the means to explore their rich collections of ancient manuscripts and artefacts.
The National Museum of Qatar, for instance, holds an assortment of artefacts recovered from the Cirebon shipwreck in the Java Sea. This presents researches with an exclusive chance to study the intricacies of maritime culture and trade connections.
The Qatar National Library will also provide access to multiple Arabic sources related to Archipelago Spices, with a particular focus on pre-16th century accounts from Arab voyagers and traders in the Indian Ocean region.
To Adimas Bayumurti, Museum Curator of Bayt Al-Qur’an & Museum Istiqlal, the very Indonesian link to the Spice Route is of interest to him and among some of the research he had done along with his colleagues in QNL was a manuscript titled “al-Mughni fi al-Adawiyah al-Mufradah,” which mentioned nutmeg Uinten pala, a spice native to the Moluccas of Indonesia.
“The Spice Route had a profound impact on the cultural tapestry of the Arab world. This was more than a conduit for precious spices, but was also one of the best examples of cultural exchange and human connection,” a Year of Culture and QM representative said.
“The ties it forged transcended centuries, enriching our understanding of the past and setting a path for an interconnected future. We are honoured to take part in such a worthy endeavour.”
Also relevant to their findings, the residency team visited the archaeological sites of Murwab, Zubarah, and Al Ruwaida.
Through their discovery, they found that Murwab was possibly a “relay point” for maritime resources such as fishing and trade due to its relatively close distance to the sea, Bayumurti pointed out.