The legendary Spice Trade has, since ancient times, connected the Mesopotamian and Mediterranean civilisations and Egypt to India and distant South East Asia, important producers of spices which have been used by people of the west for millennia.
The most ancient route connected the Egyptian harbours on the Red Sea to the Oman and the Persian Gulf and from there it proceeded along the Persian coast to the mouth of the Indo river.
The first great consignment to the west was from Persia requested by Dario the Great in V century b.C. and carried out by the Greek Scylak, and reached the region of the Indo. However it was the legendary consignment of Alexander the Great that changed the history and the geography of Asia, bringing together worlds once so distant that they ignored each other for centuries. His commander Nearco, armed the Greek fleet and from the mouth of the Indo sailed up to the Red Sea thus revealing the mystery of the Indian, Persian and Arabian coasts to the west.
Then the Greek Eudoxus discovered, from Indian sailors, the Monsoon Trade route, and from the second century b.C. Greek ships began regular connections with India thus intensifying the Spice Trade route traffic.
Those harbours saw the arrival of caravans, in Dhofar in Oman the Incense Trade routes and on the Persian coast the ramifications of the Silk Trade routes: for many centuries Arab, Indian, Persian, Malayan, and Greek merchants met there, exchanging not only commodities but also information and cultural models, which gave rise to a new and original civilisation.
On the oriental routes the Indians brought their ancient hindu culture which gave life to great civilizations in Indochina, Malaysia and Indonesia and which have left extraordinary archaeological testimonies to a great culture still alive in Bali. Later the Arabs followed advancing from the Maldives up to the peninsula of Malacca, Sumatra and Java spreading the Islamic religion.
The influence of Sultans in Malaysia and Indonesia left cities, mosques, uses and traditions in the local populations.
The Europeans finally came to Indochina and the remote Indonesian islands centres, where forts and harbours are testimony to centuries of colonial dominion, explorations and discoveries.