Read The History of Accounting: The Age of Record


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Read The History of Accounting: The Age of Record Keeping. Develop a bulleted list of 5-7 accounting practices you found interesting based on your review of this accounting age and briefly describe how these practices might relate to today’s accounting practices. recordkkeepingperiod.doc A Brief History of Accounting: The Age of Recordkeeping Thomas G. Seiler Franklin University Accounting is concerned with the recording and reporting of transactions for goods and/or services. This reporting has been evident from the time of the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, Hawaii, and the Inca Empire to the modern accounting practices of today. Professor Federigo Melis (1950) categorized accounting history into four categories which were later labeled by Raymond de Roover. These labeled categories included the age of recordkeeping, the birth of the double entry system, the age of stagnation, and the age of scientific accounting (Roover, 1955, p. 409). This paper will review the accounting practices during the age of recordkeeping. Financial Reporting in the Age of Recordkeeping Historical evidence indicated that accounting practices date back to ancient times approximating 10,000 years ago. This is the earliest period in which artifacts detailing accounting practices currently exist. Accounting may go back to even earlier times, but historians and archeologists have not discovered and/or analyzed artifacts indicating any earlier accounting practices. The records of accounting practices are the primary sources of documentation that historians analyze in presenting their findings. The records of accounting practices for the ancient Egyptian and the Mesopotamian regions are perhaps the oldest known artifacts. These artifacts consist of calamos reeds, clay tokens, and clay tablets. Ancient Mesopotamian Accounting Practices The Mesopotamians left evidence of records of financial information dating back approximately 10,000 years ago. The Mesopotamians used a form of writing which employed the use of symbols. These symbols took the form of clay tokens (small pieces of clay with markings) which later evolved into clay tablets. 2 Mattessich (1998) provided a review of literature from Schmandt-Besserat (1977, 1979, 1983, and 1992) and Nissen et al. (1993) regarding the use of clay tokens as devices for the recording of accounting transactions in ancient Mesopotamia. Clay tokens were small clay pieces which came in various sizes and shapes. The tokens, found by historians, were found in the shape of “various simple geometric shapes such as spheres, rhombuses, discs, and tetrahedrons” (Mattessich, 1998, p. 2). The author argued that the various sizes and shapes of clay tokens represent early “accounting symbols” as they did not indicate numbers or quantities but rather a combination of quantities and commodities. Clay tokens were utilized during the period between 8,000 and 3,000 B.C. (Mattessich, 1998, p. 3). The use of clay tokens was seen by Mattessich as a form of reporting of financial information. Mattessich’s review of literature indicated that clay tokens were placed in a leather pouch and later in clay containers known as “bullae” (Mattessich, 1998, p.3). The tokens inside the pouch or container had a corresponding total amount impressed on the outside of the pouch or container. Clay tokens were replaced by clay tablets around 3,000 B.C. in Mesopotamia. Clay tablets were brought about by the introduction and use of a proto-cuneiform writing system consisting of symbols representing words and descriptions which were referred to as “archaic bookkeeping” (Mattessich, 1998, p.4). This writing form is similar to the hieroglyphic writing style utilized by the ancient Egyptians during the same time period. Garbutt (1984), in his literature review, indicated that these clay tablets were more sophisticated than their predecessor clay tokens in that they documented information such as lists. T

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