buried mirror: latest reflections

mesoamerica and the maya world

Category: trade

Four Keys to Haggling

street vendors, antigua

People from cultures where haggling is not a regular practice are sometimes uncomfortable in dealing with market and street vendors. They may even accept the offer of unknown locals to help them get a good price — in which case they will end up paying not only the vendor but also the helper.

For residents of the Mesoamerican region, haggling is a natural and expected part of most transactions. Archaeologists have established that a lively trade network permeated ancient Mesoamerica, and trade is still a large part of everyday life in the region. More than just a method of marketplace price regulation, it is also a social activity. A purchase without conversation is an act of rudeness.

Haggling is not something to stress over — in fact, it should be fun, at its best full of wit and good humor. Following are four keys to successful haggling.

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Ancient Offerings Found at Nevado de Toluca

An AP article announces the find by scuba divers of what may be Aztec offerings deep in a volcanic crater lake west of Mexico City. The snow-capped volcano lies at 13,800 feet above sea level.

Research is being led by Stanislaw Iwaniszewski of the National Institute of Anthropology and History of Mexico. Among the finds are lightning bolt-shaped scepters, copal incense, obsidian knives, and maguey cactus spines.

The lightning bolt scepter indicate offerings to the rain god Tlaloc (Chac is the Maya equivalent). Obsidan knives were traded through Mesoamerica. The cactus spines would have been used in blood letting.

Some of the materials are said to date to 100 BCE, which of course is more than a millennium before the appearance of the Aztecs (who headline the AP article).

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