The Toltec Economy: Most Important Features

The Toltec economy (Inhabitants of Tula or Searchers of knowledge) is part of a civilization with Nahuatl language, that inhabited to the north of the valley of the city of Mexico, today Tula, Hidalgo; From the year 687 d.C.

With a period of apogee from the 10th century until the arrival of the Spaniards, the Toltecs were characterized mainly as a conquering people who lived on the tributes and natural wealth of the conquered tribes.

Monument civilization tolteca economy

In spite of this, they were recognized as a wise and knowledgeable people who influenced the customs, education and religion of the neighboring tribes.

The most famous vestige of this culture are the so-called"Atlantes"where the Toltecs represented in relief the journey that a human being had to make to become a god. And that realized its god Huitzilopochtli in that time.

As for its geographical location, its capital was Tollan-Xicocotitlan and its territory extended from the present Zacatecas to Yucatán.

In broad outline, the town was characterized by a flourishing and stable economy, where there were only two social classes: the privileged and the servants.

Thus, the latter carried out the economic activities. Although it is believed that they did not need to work to get out of their inferior situation but because the work was considered an obligation. Here I leave you the fundamental pillars of the economy of this curious civilization.

Characteristics of the Toltec economy


The frequent expansion of their territory allowed them to have different climates that provided different products for food and commerce.

In this sense, its agricultural system was based on the creation of great channels of irrigation that allowed the natural bodies of water to deviate to irrigate the harvests.

In addition to harvesting basic and beneficial foods such as bean , he corn , Chile and the tomato ; The Toltecs also cultivated amaranth, a tropical plant of difficult decomposition.

This plant is resistant to low and high temperatures, and has a high energy content when combined with honey and raisins, which helped them survive the cold winters without starving.

Craft production

The production of clay handicrafts and other materials provided by tributary peoples, such as the nacre shell, was a source of income flow in the region.

This was because the expanding territory was constant and added polytheistic cultures to its power the need for offerings to the gods And to the presence of representations in the homes.

In addition, being a culture dedicated to art, the Toltec appreciated the reliefs and representations, reason why its products were of masterful designs and much sought after even by the adjacent cultures.

It is believed that most of the Toltec people knew how to"write"so they did not have scribes or people dedicated to writing on behalf of the whole empire, which facilitated the creation of crafts with personal meaning.


The Toltecs were known to create the first monopolies, since they prevented the peoples under the yoke of their empire from bartering with other cultures for products that the empire produced. In this way, civilization maintained capital and wealth within its territory, while ensuring its sustainability.

They also made use of the law of supply and demand and raised the prices of the products according to their availability at the time of year, so it could be said that the first"latifundia"of Mexico originated from the pre-Hispanic period.

Added to the above, they always sought to conquer tribes in strategic points of commerce that allowed them to charge tribute to merchants of others who tried to cross their territory, and in this way to get a share of the product.


The Toltecs were a prepared people, wise among the cultures of Mesoamerica, so that most of their conquests were not only related to power and territory, but to the natural riches that the towns could offer. As well as knowledge of its sages and records and history.

Because of this, the Toltecs conquered tribes with new or scarce products in their territory to later collect taxes and thus eliminate the deficit or the need.

Despite being cold in planning their conquests, the Toltecs were not known for their cruelty, but for their disciplined military force that enforced their laws without coming to violence.


Within the annals of the history of Cultures of Mesoamerica , The Toltecs are known as the first people to handle metals and shape them. The vestiges found can not assure that they were the first to devise a technique to achieve it, but the first to leave it recorded in their reliefs and codices.

In spite of the above, the works of blacksmithing were not as sophisticated as the ones of clay craftsmanship, since the pieces of metal found, are actually crude and functional. In this way, it is believed that the metallurgy in this civilization began almost to the end of the same, which did not allow them to elaborate techniques of handling and malleability.

For all of the above, we can define Toltec culture as an intelligent civilization, with great sensitivity for religion and a strong attachment to commercial strategies that helped to reduce the violence that was common in the populations of those times.

Their vestiges tell us of wisdom, abundance and knowledge and even of influence on the cultures best known for their desire for knowledge, like the Mayans, who appear as one of the most Myths and legends Tributary of the Toltecs.


  1. Encyclopedia of Prehistory: Volume 5: Middle America, Peter N. Peregrine, Melvin EmberSpringer Science & Business Media, Dec 6, 2012 -page 38, retrieved from
  2. Toltec Civilization, June 18, 2016 by ArnavSaikia, retrieved from
  3. Read more:
  4. The Toltec civilization by Mark Cartwright, published on 09 September 2013, retrieved from
  5. The Toltecs by The sailor foundation 2013, retrieved from
  6. The ancient toltec trade and economy by Christopher Minster, 12/12/15, retrieved from
  7. AncientAmerica, Archeology, Mexico, Toltec, Tula byOjibwa. "NativeAmericaroots"retrieved from

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