The Aztecs and Their Currency

Explore the forms of money used by the Aztecs, including cocoa beans and barter systems, and learn about the intricacies of their economy.

09 Abril 2024

Por Zeemp

The Aztecs and Their Currency

The Aztecs, an ancient Mesoamerican civilization, were known for their sophisticated economy and extensive trade networks. Like many ancient societies, the Aztecs employed a variety of items as forms of money and currency. Let's delve into the fascinating world of Aztec currency and economic systems.

Cocoa Beans: The Currency of Wealth

One of the most iconic forms of Aztec currency was the humble cocoa bean. Known as cacao in the Nahuatl language, cocoa beans were highly prized by the Aztecs for their use as a form of money. Cocoa beans were considered a symbol of wealth and were used in various transactions, including trade, taxation, and tribute.

Cocoa beans were valued for their rarity, as they could only be cultivated in specific regions with the right climate conditions. The Aztecs traded cocoa beans for goods such as food, clothing, and jewelry, and they were also used as a form of tribute to the ruling elite.

Barter: An Essential Economic System

In addition to cocoa beans, the Aztecs also relied on a system of barter for conducting transactions. Barter involved the exchange of goods and services directly between individuals without the use of money. This system was common in everyday transactions and allowed Aztec society to function without a formal currency.

Barter relied on the mutual agreement of value between trading partners. For example, a farmer might exchange corn for pottery with a skilled artisan. While barter was widespread, it was often supplemented by the use of cocoa beans or other standardized goods in larger transactions.

Standardized Goods and Commodities

Alongside cocoa beans and barter, the Aztecs also used various standardized goods as forms of money. These included items such as cotton cloth, animal skins, and metal objects. These standardized goods were often used in larger transactions or as a means of storing wealth.

The use of standardized goods allowed for greater flexibility in trade and commerce, as they could be easily transported and exchanged. These goods were also valued for their utility and durability, making them ideal forms of currency in Aztec society.


The Aztecs employed a diverse range of items as forms of money, reflecting the complexity of their economy and the importance of trade in Aztec society. From cocoa beans to barter and standardized goods, Aztec currency played a crucial role in facilitating economic transactions and maintaining social order.

For further exploration of Aztec civilization and their economy, you can visit this link.

Aztec Currency


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