The Itza Maya Control over Cacao

Laura Caso Barrera and Mario Aliphat F.

in Chocolate in Mesoamerica

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print April 2009 | ISBN: 9780813029535
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813039503 | DOI:
The Itza Maya Control over Cacao

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This chapter focuses on the Itza Maya and their use of cacao as a measure against the Spanish conquest. Itza, which was the last independent Maya kingdom, staunchly maintained a dynamic and active political and economic resistance to Spanish intrusion. For more than a hundred and fifty years after the Cortes's first had access to the Peten region, the Itza reconstructed an ancient Peten exchange system and occupied the void left by the collapse of the maritime trade network of the Chontal. In the face of the Spanish conquest and menace, the Itza responded by incorporating and diminishing internal conflict and division created by competing Itza parcialidades by making cacao achiote and vanilla as strategic commodities for Itza. The Itza were able to integrate and control the production of cacao in some of the regions and were able to compete with the Spanish commercial network. This chapter attempts to establish the most significant parameters of the political and social economy of cacao during the first Spanish contact until the final conquest of Itza.

Keywords: Itza Maya; cacao; Spanish conquest; Itza; Peten; achiote; vanilla; strategic commodities; political economy; social economy

Chapter.  7233 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Prehistoric Archaeology

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