Ancient accounting

Authored by: Salvador Carmona , Mahmoud Ezzamel

The Routledge Companion to Accounting History

Print publication date:  July  2008
Online publication date:  May  2009

Print ISBN: 9780415410946
eBook ISBN: 9780203871928
Adobe ISBN: 9781135230883


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This chapter aims to provide an overview of prior research on ancient accounting derived from both the accounting and non-accounting disciplines. The intention is to address some of the remarkably rich insights drawn from a variety of ancient accounting practices, the contexts within which they emerged, and the applications to which they have been put. The review of the extant literature demonstrates that accounting played a key role in facilitating the functioning of ancient states and economies, helping to regulate and coordinate activities conducted at various levels in ancient societies. Further, the review points to the remarkable capacity of ancient accounting to intervene in the domain of state activities, religious institutions, private business and the household. Far from being a rudimentary and crude technology, the chapter shows just how these ancient accounting practices exhibited a quite complex and rich variety of valuing and recording techniques.

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