Long-distance trade under the aztec empire: The archaeological evidence

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This article presents archaeological data on Late Postclassic long-distance trade in central and northern Mesoamerica. Aztec trade goods from the Basin of Mexico (ceramics and obsidian) are widespread, while imports from other areas are much less common, both in the Basin of Mexico and elsewhere. The artifactual data signal a high volume of exchange in the Late Postclassic, and while trade was spatially nucleated around the Basin of Mexico, most exchange activity was apparently not under strong political control. The archaeological findings are compared with ethnohistoric sources to further our knowledge of the mechanisms of exchange, the effect of elite consumption on trade, and the relationship between trade and imperialism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-169
Number of pages17
JournalAncient Mesoamerica
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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