History of Accounting - Ancient Accounting

History of Accounting > Ancient Systems of Accounting

The development of social life and especially the formation of states or sovereignties levying any form of taxation necessitated, in addition to a knowledge of numbers, a power of holding count and reckoning. In this we find the origin of the science of accounting. It antedated the stating of accounts as we understand them,—since that could not take place until some monetary standard had been adopted in which the items composing an account could be expressed in terms of equality.

In the earliest of such states some kind of organisation must have been necessary to collect and account for the public revenues, and an inquiry into the methods of accounting in use among peoples of antiquity, and the arrangements for administering state property, may be of interest before we enter upon the investigation of the history of accounts proper.

The nineteenth century added enormously to our knowledge of ancient nations. At the beginning of that century, history may almost be said to have begun with the Greeks and Romans. Now we can look back on civilised communities existing more than 5000 years before Christ in wonder.

Before leaving the dark ages, however, we may pause for a moment to refer to the enlightened arrangements established by Charlemagne in the Frankish Empire, which are especially remarkable in view of the barbarism prevailing elsewhere. An ordinance of that emperor of the year 812 contains elaborate instructions for the management of the imperial estates. It prescribes that accounts of income and expenditure shall be kept and rendered. Every judex (the judices were stewards on the villce or estates of the emperor) was required to report yearly at Christmas separately, distinctly, and in order, what he had out of his administration — rents, duties, fines, farm produce, &c. ” In all the foregoing, let it not seem harsh to our judices that we require these accounts, for we wish that they, in like manner, count with their subordinates, without offence.”1

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One Response to “History of Accounting - Ancient Accounting”

  1. D. Indya, Accounting Historian says:

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