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The ECONOMY of the Toltecs

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Toltec economy - summary

The economy is one of the most useful factors when it comes to understanding a culture or civilization, since the way in which workers dedicate their lives gives many clues about what a people is like, its evolution and its relationship with the environment. To talk about the working lifestyle of one of the most important peoples of America, in this lesson from a TEACHER we offer you a summary of the Toltec economy.

Before talking about the main characteristics of the Toltec economy, we must talk about this people to understand their importance in the American historical panorama.

The toltec culture It was an important civilization of the cultural area called Mesoamerica, this being one of the most important cultural areas in the history of mankind, since in a small area important cultures shared habitat such as the Maya, the Aztec or the Toltecs.

Within this area, the Toltecs had their time of greatest importance during the so-called Postclassic Period, occupying between the years 950 AD C. to 1150 AD. C

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. a zone of influence similar to the one that years later the Aztecs or Mexica took. Its main headquarters were the areas of Huapalcalco and Tollan-Xicocotitlan and it is here where it is easier to see the main elements of its economy.

The Toltec culture was one of the great military cultures of the Mesoamerican zone, being one of the first towns that centered in greater part its power in the military aspect than in the religious one. His great power of conquest made trade it was one of its great economic tools, possessing resources from large areas. Their conquests were also key because of the tributes that the conquered peoples paid, being a key factor in their economy.

Toltec economy - summary - Who were the Toltecs? With map

Image: Ancient World

To understand about the economy of one of the most influential peoples of the American continent, we must talk about the main features of the Toltec economy, to understand why they behaved in a certain way and what were the elements that the later Mesoamerican peoples copied in their economy.

To have a broad knowledge, we are going to list the main characteristics and in the next section we will talk about the main economic factors. The general characteristics of the Toltec economy are the following:

  • The center of the economy was the farming, which had the typical products of the area.
  • The Commerce it was key among the Mesoamerican peoples, and it was one of the main reasons for the war.
  • They were good collectors, being very common the use of stone and metals to carry out handicraft work.
  • The wealth of the Toltec nation was based largely on the tributes that they received from the conquered peoples.
  • Its tribute-based economy was imitated by later military peoples, the best example being that of the Aztecs.
  • It is thought that they were able to create a huge commercial network that reached long distances.
Toltec economy - summary - Characteristics of the Toltec economy

To finish this lesson on the economy of the Toltecs we must talk about the different sectors that made up its economy, explaining each of its elements to understand its peculiarities and similarities with the same sectors in other Mesoamerican peoples.


As in the rest of Mesoamerican cultures, agriculture was the main economic driver from the Toltec people, their main crops being typical of the area such as corn, beans or tomatoes.

The great evolution of Toltec agriculture was based on a unique irrigation system, creating large irrigation canals that connected large bodies of water with crops for constant irrigation.

The great expansion achieved by their conquests made the Toltecs have a great variety of crops for the enormous amount of different climates between its territories, being the cause of its economic power in this sector.

Toltec trade

The connections between towns was a constant in the Mesoamerican world, and it was for this reason that trade had an important role in all the societies of the area, and especially in civilizations as broad as the Toltecs.

A very interesting value of the Toltecs was their strategic conquest value, seeking dominate areas with high commercial values or through which areas with abundant commerce will pass in order to collect tolls or taxes from merchants in other regions.

We must bear in mind that the Toltec trade was one of the most modern of the time, having economic elements such as monopoly, the law of supply and demand or the nationalization of products.


The great importance of military life in the Toltec world it caused tributes to be one of the bases of its economy. The choice of the towns to be conquered was based on the tributes that they could pay, thinking more about the wealth that they could obtain from the conquest than in other territorial questions.

They were not considered as a cruel people, but only as a calculating culture that based its conquest on the goods or tributes that they could obtain, being therefore very important in its economy.


Like other Mesoamerican peoples, crafts were a very important value of its economy, There are many archaeological artisanal remains that we currently have to understand their importance.

The quality of their artisan works in clay, with writing and symbols much adored by American culture, caused that many Toltecs were dedicated to crafts.

Toltec economy - summary - The economic sectors of the Toltecs

Image: Slideshare
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