A Short History of Accounting

The oldest known accounting records date back to 3500 B. C. and relate to commerce in the Mesopotamian Valley.  The duties of a scribe (a Mesopotamian accountant) were to record commercial transactions and to audit these transactions to ensure compliance with the Code of Hammurabi, the earliest legal code.  To be a scribe in Mesopotamia was to be an honored and respected member of society.

Governmental accounting developed in ancient Rome.  The emperors had control of the Roman Treasury but the records were maintained by quaestors (Roman accountants). To manage their vast commercial enterprises within the empire the Romans developed the use of an annual budget.

Medieval accounting was agency accounting.  The chief task of the accountant was to monitor the taxes due to the king from his various counties.  Tax settlements were made at a table covered with a checkered cloth. In England this cloth was named the Exchequer.

[Image]The father of modern accounting was Luca Pacioli, a Franciscan friar of the Renaissance period.  In 1494 he published a book on mathematics which contained twenty-six chapters outlining a system of bookkeeping used by Italian merchants.  This system was called the "Method of Venice".

Scotland was the birthplace of the modern accounting profession.  In 1854 a group of Scottish accountants petitioned Queen Victoria for a charter to form a society of accountants.  It was granted and they called themselves Chartered Accountants using the letters, "C. A." as a professional designation.

Many of these Chartered Accountants came to the United States in the late 1800s and set up firms in New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago.  Accounting had come to the New World

If you have questions about the program, you may email::    

Josephine M. Mathias, Accounting Coordinator   

Ken Horowitz, Accounting Faculty         

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