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Cuneiform is considered to be the beginning point of accountancy. Wikimedia
  • Cuneiform is the earliest system of writing in the world
  • This was invented by the Sumerians and emerged in Mesopotamia
  • This development led to the start of accountancy, the evidence being the existence of the clay tablets or the oldest accounting records

New Delhi, July 4, 2017: Noting the ubiquitousness of symbols and language, and our inability to stop thinking about them, the task to imagine our lives without them can look like a tough one. Be it the signs that are posted on the street corners, or the 1000 bucks in your wallet, it is the value that we have attached to these mundane objects, that makes the society go on without much chaos.

Ubiquitous that they seem to us now, signs and symbols were once a novelty. Cuneiform script is considered as humankind’s earliest system of writing developed by the ancient Sumerians of Mesopotamia. The name ‘Cuneiform’ is derived from the Latin word ‘Cuneus’ meaning ‘wedge’ owing to the style of writing which is wedge shaped.


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The purpose behind the creation of this system of writing remained a mystery for long. Julius Jordan, a German archaeologist deepened this mystery further by unearthing a vast library of clay tablets that were 5000 years old. The tablets came from Uruk, the Mesopotamian city on the bank of Euphrates. The tablets were shaped, “like the commodities of daily life, jars, loaves and animals,” Noticed Julius Jordan.

French archaeologist Denise Schmandt Besserat agreed when she cataloged similar pieces that were found, across the region from Turkey to Pakistan, some of them being 9000 years old. She believed that the token had one simple purpose which is Correspondence Counting– Tokens shaped loaves that could be used to count loaves, whereas the ones shaped jars could be used to count jars, mentioned BBC report.

Uruk being an urban economy required planning, trading, and taxation, and so came the need for the development of such a system of writing. Denise Schmandt Besserat also pointed out the resemblance between the tokens and the cuneiform tablets that suggested the use of these clay tablets in order to record the back and forth of the tokens, and hereby, these clay tablets gave existence to the world’s first accounts.

These clay tablets can be considered as the oldest accounting records to have existed.

– prepared by Samiksha Goel of NewsGram. Twitter @goel_samiksha


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