At the height of all their achievements, the Mayan civilisation developed in an large impressive area that encompasses what is now southeastern Mexico, all of Guatemala and Belize, and the western portions of Honduras and El Salvador.

The culture is well known for art, architecture, mathematics, calendar, and an astronomical system, as well as its hieroglyphic script — the only known fully developed writing system of the pre-Columbian Americas.

But we also owe something else to the Maya, something much more important in our day-to-day lives: Chocolate.

Did you realise that your chocolate bar was probably worth its weight in gold at the height of Mayan opulence?.

We know during Mayan times chocolate was a form of currency. We also know the Maya never used coins as money.

Instead, like many other early civilisations, it seems likely they mostly bartered and traded things like tobacco, maize, and clothes.

Some of Spanish records from the 16th century tell us that that Europeans used cacao beans to pay workers,

 

Aztec tribute list from the Codex Mendoza (c. 1541).

This is an  image showing the tributes that the Aztecs took twice a year from cocoa-growing regions in southern Mexico.

Next to the jaguar skins are bags filled with cacao beans.

Above each bag are five flags, each of which equals 20 beans.

It's thought that for 100 cocoa beans, a slave could be bought,  for 20, a goat 10, a wife or a rabbit and for 5, a pumpkin or gourd.

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