Traveling Back to the Early Origins of Accounting

Old accounting book with handwritten notes, dates, and numerical data to track and record information for businesses.

Let’s face it—life would be pretty difficult with the help of an accountant. With an accountant, we can tackle the stressors that linger in our minds, such as filing taxes, handling payroll, and monitoring spending. Accountants are especially helpful for small businesses and for those who are starting up their own company. As we are curious beings by nature, it is likely that you have pondered on the beginnings of accountants and how they came to be. Understanding the origins of an occupation can help us better understand one’s daily duties and responsibilities! We’re here to go over how exactly accounting began and how it has made its way into modern-day society. 

An Accountant’s Humble Beginnings

The first name that hits the history books and records when it comes to referencing early accounting is Luca Pacioli. Pacioli had plenty to talk about accounting and double-entry bookkeeping in his “Summa de Arithemetica, Geometria, Proportioni et Proportionalita”, which dates all the way back to 1494. While that may seem like a pretty long time ago, it is stated that accounting holds roots that trace back even earlier than the 1400s. Accounting has been around for centuries and at this point, it does not seem necessary to do away with the occupation! It is a critical part of business management, record-keeping, and many aspects of life. The first record of accounting occurred in Mesopotamia and has thus evolved into the intricate element of business and life that it is today. 

The Earliest Record of Accounting 

The earliest accounting records were dated and found from seven thousand years ago, in the setting of the ruins of ancient Mesopotamia. At the time, people and civilizations relied on accounting to keep a record of crop and herd growth. Crop and herd growth was the dominant business at this time in history, so farmers and ranchers were the individuals that were most associated with accountants. The accounting techniques that were used then are still used today to determine existing surpluses or shortages after crops are harvested each season. 

Accounting During the Roman Empire

The Roman Empire is credited with many humble beginnings for many modern-day services. “The Deeds of the Divine Augustus” was published during the reign of the Roman Empire and it entailed Emperor Augustus’ financial dealings. It listed such quantities as distributions to the people, grants of land, building plans of temples, money to military veterans, religious offerings, and money spent on theatrical shows and gladiator events. This discovery hints at the scope of accounting information available to the emperor, in which it is likely that he probably used this information for planning and decision-making purposes. Roman historians also recorded public revenues, the amount of money in the state treasury, taxes, slaves, freedmen, and much more. 

The Middle Age Functions of Accounting

During the middle ages and medieval times, bartering was the primary form of currency and trading and exchanging money. When Europe adopted a monetary-based economy in the thirteenth century, merchants began to rely heavily on bookkeeping to maintain a record of multiple transactions. This is when double-entry bookkeeping was implemented, which is also when debit and credit value was entered for each transaction by the accountant. In addition, merchants used accounting as an ad-hoc ordering system. This provided them with consistent and updated information about their business that they could use in decision-making scenarios to grow their business as they saw fit. This is credited with laying the foundation of how we use and understand accounting today. 

Modern Day Accounting Methods 

In modern times, there are established accounting standards, auditing regulations, and ethical standards that accountants must follow. Accountants and their associates handle the monetary ebb and flow of our economy. In obvious terms, they are not the only individuals that are responsible for the entire economy, but they do play a major role. Each and every business, company, corporation, government, and individual are entitled to use, at the very least, the basic accounting principles during their lifetime, and often during their daily duties. It is an important and essential element of business and over thousands of years, it has evolved into what we now know of modern-day accounting. 

This read is not solely for your entertainment. It also intended to keep our audiences informed and knowledgeable about what goes into accounting, from early times to modern-day! United Payroll & Bookkeeping Services cares about each and every client we come into contact with, therefore, we will not push you out as soon as possible. We will sit you down and take the time to thoroughly discuss your needs and assistance! Do not hesitate to call us today to learn more about our services and how we can keep you and your business’ spending in an organized and structured system of bookkeeping. 

Scroll to Top