What Natural Resources Did the Aztecs Have Access To?

Zylenia/CC-BY 2.0

The Aztec economy was heavily reliant on agriculture and trade. The land controlled by the Aztecs was fertile, allowing farmers to grow corn, squash, beans, avocados, hemp, tobacco and peppers. The Aztecs then used this surplus of food to establish marketplaces to trade for a variety of goods and services, including jewelry, raw materials, medicine and wood. Precious metals, such as gold, were also prevalent in the Aztec Empire.

Trade and bartering were so important in the Aztec empire that there was an established marketplace, known as a Tianquiztli, close to the main temple at the centre of all major cities. The largest market in the Aztec empire was in the city Tlatelolco, which regularly had 60,000 people and ran 24 hours a day throughout the entire year. Small markets in cities were typically open five days a week, while larger ones were open all seven days.

The two most prevalent forms of currency at Aztec marketplaces were cocoa beans turned into chocolate and cotton fabrics. Cotton was also sometimes cut into standardized lengths, and used as a currency called Quachtli. Although Quachtli was not used as frequently for transactions, it was often used for large purchases. Children were also occasionally used as currency and were traded for as much as 600 cocoa beans per child.