May 01, 2009

Mayan Trade and Economy


Trade in Maya civilization was a vital element in maintaining cities. The economy was based primarily on the trading of food like corn, squash, and beans. They also bartered for almost any other basic need because it was essential in their supply and demand economy. The types of trade differed significantly, from long-distance trading spanning the length of the Mayan region and beyond, to small trading between farm families. This long distance trade surely went along with the exchange of writing, mathematical skills as well as astronomical knowledge between groups.

The rise of merchants facilitated growth in the middle class as well as the elite class of many communities. Cacao beans were worth transporting for long distances because they were luxury items. A large tomato was worth one bean, a turkey egg was 3 beans, 4 cocoa beans could buy a pumpkin, and 100 could buy a rabbit or a good turkey hen, and 1000 a slave. Possible the most important goods involved in long distance trade were Salt, Obsidian, Jade, Cacao and Quetzal feathers.

The large cities acted as redistribution centers where traders obtained merchandise to sale in smaller cities. The largest known trading center was Tikal. Many goods where exchanged, but primarily the every day goods such as clothes, fruits, vegetables, meat, and pottery. Even the best farmers had to trade some of their crop to purchase salt, chocolate and other merchandise.


• Diet


¨Volcanic glass
¨Daily and ritual life
¨Tools & weapons
¨Available to all households unlike Jade
¨Sacrificial Blade
¨Used in some US hospitals today for heart bypass surgery

¨Beneficial for Kidneys
¨Revered above gold
¨Kings & royality (bright green)


¨Economic trade
¨Mayan belief that ka'kau' was discovered by the god Hunahpú and given to humans after they were created from maize by the goddess Ixmucané. (Bogin 1997, Coe 1996, Montejo 1999, Tedlock 1985)

Bolon Yookte' K'uh

*was a prince of Xibalbá
* as well as a wealthy , he was god of commerce and trade
* he is an old god
*sometimes with the ear of a jaguar

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