Salt and The Maya: Major Prehispanic Trading Spheres



In recent years, Maya scholars have been increasingly interested in the role of trade in the development of Maya civilization, and a growing number of studies have sought to explain the interrelationships between trade and cultural processes and their consequent impact on historical events in the Maya area. A growing concern for the resources exchanged in prehispanic trade networks has also developed as a logical extension of this subject. Many exotic trade goods recovered from archaeological excavations, such as po]ychrome pottery, obsidian, jade and metal, have been and still are the subject of in-depth studies. However, many equally important trade resources, which are perishable and therefore not recoverable in archaeological context, have not received adequate attention (Rathje, 1971; Dillon, 1975). Perhaps the only major exception is cacao, which was used as currency throughout Mesôamerica in prehispanic times. Through recourse to indirect sources of information, such as ethnohistoric accounts and modern ethographic and agricultural data, Millon (1955) and Bergmann (1959) have provided a broad basis for reconstructing the distribution, production and trade of this resource prior to the conquest. The same approach can be applied to other major trade items of the Maya, such as cotton, honey, wax, jaguar pelts, exotic feathers, rubber, copal, agave fiber, tobacco, spices, salt and a whole range of faunal and vegetal foodstuffs.

Keywords: Anthropology, Maya, Prehispanic

How to Cite: Andrews, A. P. (1980) “Salt and The Maya: Major Prehispanic Trading Spheres”, Arizona Anthropologist. 1(0).