THE POCHTECAS: MERCHANTS AND SPIES

The nets of commercial exchange were in the hands of the great merchants called Pochtecas. They were in charge of supplying the outside markets called tianguis, with products bought at wholesales from regions apart. True professionals in commerce, they constituted a class related with the nobility and with a particular hierarchy. These international merchants traveled the commercial routes traced by their ancestors since the Teotihuacan Era. To say the truth, the merchants transported their products from the central zone of the country to places within a very big distance and they were in charge of spreading the Teotihucan culture to places like Veracruz , Oaxaca and Guerrero.

Even more in the V century A.D. they were able to get to zones so distanced like Guatemala and Honduras , they traveled in caravans similar to the ones in the Sahara desert, they traded among towns and they were related with other groups of Pochtecas that visited different places. Their trips could have lasted years of journey by difficult roads and not very friendly territories. Sometimes they had jobs of espionage in favor to the Aztec monarchs, and there are some known cases were they had to disguise themselves for inhabitants of the place in order to get a deeper appreciation of the situation. The pochtecas had a very firm formation. Besides learning the trade routes they knew the customs and languages of the towns they had to travel to. Even though the job didn't constitute military formation, they knew martial arts, to defend their products from

the attacks of burglars and enemies. Like sometimes they developed the role of ambassadors, they had knowledge of the traditions and the protocol of the court. To the fact that the pochtecas arrive to the plazas marked with regularity due to the tradition, that lasts to our days having the open street markets on fixed days of the week.

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