mayans and aztecsCompare and contrast the economic patterns of the Mayans and the Aztecs
One possible focus of your paper might deal with the famous scientific accomplishments of the Mayans and the famously violent religious practices of the Aztecs. This, at least, is how the two cultures tend to be remembered today -- the Mayans for their calendars and the Aztecs for their violent religious rituals.
Of course, before you can write your essay, you need to do some research, preferably using peer-reviewed sources (sources read and approved by experts). One danger of simply using the web for research is that often web sites are not peer-reviewed, or at least they are not obviously labeled as such. Sites sponsored by universities are often reliable; they usually end with an "edu" suffix. Sources found on Google Books tend to be more often peer reviewed than those found simply through a Goodle web search. Databases to which your school subscribes would probably be trustworthy; your school librarian can help you with those. And, of course, old-fashioned books and journal articles in the library can be helpful as well.
In the meantime, here are two sites that may help get your started:
You may also want to search the terms "Aztec" and "Mayan" in the eNotes search box in the upper right corner of this page.
Good luck with your project!
I had not actually heard about the Aztecs using cacao beans as a form of currency. As somebody who currently lives in S. America where the Aztecs once reigned, I always thought that currency and the concept of money was something that the Spaniards introduced, much to the detriment of the indigenous civilisation.
Both Mayans and Aztecs had wealthy economies based upon trade but the Aztec trade seems to been more extensive relevant to trade over distance, as the Aztecs seem to have covered more expansive distance.
The two were mostly pretty similar in that both were based (as with almost all pre-industrial people) on agriculture and trade. One difference is that the Aztecs are said to have used cacao beans as currency whereas the Maya did not have currency and conducted trade via bartering.