Cover of Economies and Polities

Book About the Aztec Economy

Economies and Polities in the Aztec Realm, edited by Mary G. Hodge and Michael E. Smith. Institute for Mesoamerican Studies, Albany (1994), ISBN: 0942041151. Distributed by the University of Texas Press, Austin, TX. ($32.00)
NOTE: This book is listed as out of print by the University of Texas Press. Copies can be purchased, however, from the:    Institute for Mesoamerican Studies.

"The seventeen papers in this collection deal with various aspects of the relationship between economics and the political units which constituted the Aztec state and its main competitor, the Tarascan empire. Until recently Aztec studies were dominated by a narrow preoccupation with the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan coupled with neglect of other cities and the rural countryside. Fortunately a few archaeologists and ethnohistorians, including the contributors to this volume, insisted on expanding the geographical and conceptual parameters of Aztec studies. They also began to employ recent innovative approaches in archaeology, locational geography, economics, political theory, and history in their quest to understand what really happened in central Mexico during the Postclassic period. The result has been some very exciting new perspectives on this fascinating topic." (from a review by Dr. Richard A. Diehl, University of Alabama).

drawing of Aztec figurines from Otumba The chapters in this book present new data and new approaches that contrast with the standard view of the Aztec economy as portrayed in the works of Sahagún, Durán, Zorita, and the other Spanish chroniclers. One of the key findings of the book is the existence of a diversity of local economic and political conditions throughout the area we call the Aztec realm. Local and regional economies flourished beneath the veneer of an empire that was previously thought to be more monolithic and centralized than the new evidence suggests.
These small clay figurines, used in domestic rituals, were produced at craft workshops in the Aztec city of Otumba. (drawing by Cynthia Otis Charlton; from "Plebians and Patricians: Contrasting Patterns of Production and Distribution in the Aztec Figurine and Lapidary Industries," by Cynthia Otis Charlton, chapter 8 of Economies and Polities in the Aztec Realm.

About the Editors:

drawing of Otomi warrior The late Dr. Mary G. Hodge was Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Houston, Clear Lake. One of the leading authorities on Aztec archaeology and ethnohistory, Dr. Hodge made important contributions to the study of Aztec city-states, the Aztec empire, and systems of ceramic exchange in the Valley of Mexico. Her other books include Aztec City-States (Universityof Michigan, Museum of Anthropology, Memoirs, no. 18, 1984), and Aztec Imperial Strategies (Dumbarton Oaks, 1996; co-authored by F. Berdan, R. Blanton, E. Boone, M. Hodge, M. Smith, and E, Umberger). Dr. Michael E. Smith is Professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona STate University: For more information, follow the links provided below.
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