Rethinking the Aztec Economy
320 pages, 6 x 9
29 b&w illustrations, 4 maps, 23 tables
Release Date:06 Nov 2018
CA$49.95 Back Order
Ships in 4-6 weeks.
Release Date:11 Apr 2017

Rethinking the Aztec Economy

The University of Arizona Press

With its rich archaeological and historical record, the Aztec empire provides an intriguing opportunity to understand the dynamics and structure of early states and empires. Rethinking the Aztec Economy brings together leading scholars from multiple disciplines to thoroughly synthesize and examine the nature of goods and their movements across rural and urban landscapes in Mesoamerica. In so doing, they provide a new way of understanding society and economy in the Aztec empire.

The volume is divided into three parts. Part 1 synthesizes our current understanding of the Aztec economy and singles out the topics of urbanism and provincial merchant activity for more detailed analysis. Part 2 brings new data and a new conceptual approach that applies insights from behavioral economics to Nahua and Aztec rituals and social objects. Contributors also discuss how high-value luxury goods, such as feather art, provide insights about both economic and sacred concepts of value in Aztec society. Part 3 reexamines the economy at the Aztec periphery. The volume concludes with a synthesis on the scale, integration, and nature of change in the Aztec imperial economy.

Rethinking the Aztec Economy illustrates how superficially different kinds of social contexts were in fact integrated into a single society through the processes of a single economy. Using the world of goods as a crucial entry point, this volume advances scholarly understanding of life in the Aztec world.


Frances F. Berdan
Laura Filloy Nadal
Janine Gasco
Colin Hirth
Kenneth G. Hirth
Sarah Imfeld
María Olvido Moreno Guzmán
Deborah L. Nichols
Alan R. Sandstrom
Pamela Effrein Sandstrom
Michael E. Smith
Barbara L. Stark
Emily Umberger

A valuable and timely contribution to the study of an ancient economy and points to areas ripe for future research.’—HAHR

‘A superb new contribution to the literature on premodern goods and economies, and Aztec society in particular.’—David M. Carballo, author of Urbanization and Religion in Ancient Central Mexico

‘An essential contribution to Mesoamerican studies, and a statement of progress toward understanding premodern economy and society generally.’—Stephen Kowalewski, co-author of Origins of the Ñuu: Archaeology in the Mixteca Alta, Mexico

Deborah L. Nichols is the William J. Bryant 1925 Professor of Anthropology at Dartmouth College. She is the co-editor of the Oxford Handbook of the Aztecs, among other volumes. She has received both the Society for American Archaeology’s Distinguished Service Award and the American Anthropological Association’s President’s Award. Frances F. Berdan is professor emerita of anthropology at California State University, San Bernardino. She has authored, co-authored, or co-edited thirteen books and more than a hundred articles, including the four-volume Codex Mendoza. Her most recent book is Aztec Archaeology and Ethnohistory. Michael E. Smith is a professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University. He is the author of numerous scholarly articles and six books on the Aztecs, including At Home with the Aztecs: An Archaeologist Uncovers Their Daily Life.
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