Abstract

The Creation of Inside Money within the Aztec Empire

The Aztec Empire was a social system organized based on the imperial variation of the world paradigm developed by Immanuel Wallerstein, which, in economic matters, depended on a market system characterized for its hierarchical order according to its level of specialization. This latter, eased the interaction amongst the different distribution circles through the Mesoamerican region. With the exception of the small local ones, the markets extended their influence to the exterior, a characteristic that, based on the great variety of goods that were imported and exported, created the necessity of different expressions of inside money to homologue the transactions that supported the long distance trade. These monetary expressions were not outside monies provided by a sovereign stakeholder, given that they were regulated by the traders who penalized the wrong practices related to the money in circulation. In a context that worked with a variety of inside monies (cacao beans, cooper axes, textiles, shells, amongst others), earlier descriptions of this monetary system were based on the idea that the Aztec market system was one structured around barter and the use of cacao as means of payment, ignoring the socio-legal dynamics that foster the emergence of inside money following the endogenous needs developed within individual markets.