Aztec Economy

Sweet potatoes were one of the main crops in Aztec agriculture which was the pillar of Aztec economy.

The economy of the Aztecs started only as a very simple outline that eventually became intricate as the population of the Aztecs grew. The Aztec people knew how to effectively manage all of their resources, thus they were able to thrive and grow despite the many disadvantages that were presented to them.

Agriculture: The Pillar Of Aztec Economy

Aztec were very good farmers and agriculture was the foundation of their economy. The Aztecs used the Chinampa way of farming which enabled the people to make highly productive gardens that not only let them farm the land but also let them reclaim the water.

They were able to plant and harvest lots of crops like sweet potatoes, maize, tomatoes, avocados, beans, squashes and other kinds of plants. While in the lowlands, tropical crops like papaya, cotton and cacao were planted and harvested. Chocolate, which is consumed both in liquid and solid form, made the Aztecs famous worldwide. When the Spanish conquered the Aztecs, they found out about chocolate and thus chocolate was discovered and spread across Europe. The crops that they planted and harvested were their main source of food since they rarely hunted animals as food, only eating turkey as some sort of special occasion food.

Use Of Money In Aztec Economy

The Aztecs were definitely an advanced people since they knew about the value of money. Several kinds of money were used by the Aztecs and the cacao bean was one of the regular money used by the Aztecs. For example, a small rabbit would cost a person around thirty cacao beans, but if a man were to sell his own child (especially a daughter), that man would gain about 600 cacao beans. Remember that selling one’s own child was common for them and they even regarded self sacrificing one’s self as the highest honor a warrior can get.

Other than the cacao beans, the Aztecs used quachtli; a type of cloth that the Aztecs really treasured. It is said that this type of cotton cloth was more valued than the cacao beans and if a common man were given ten quachtli, than man can live for half a year in Tenochtitlan.

Markets And Trade

Money or cacao beans and quachtli were used by many people to buy or trade goods. There are many other markets in Tenochtitlan but the one called Tlatelco (which is the main marketplace for the Aztec people) was where almost everyone went because of the large selection. Many farmers, merchants, potters and so on came to this market to sell their produce or their products. So one would find absolutely anything they wanted in this market place.

It is said that the city where the Aztecs lived in was grand and can be compared to the great European cities. Only Paris and a few other European cities were larger than the city of Tenochtitlan. Although that sounds really impressive, it wasn’t an exaggeration. Almost sixty thousand people came into the markets day in and day out to buy food, slaves, firewood, clothing, jewelry, feathers and so much more.

If compared to todays standards Aztec economy was quite simple and basic, but for that time and place it supported a large and successful Aztec empire.