Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Accounting before writing

How the world's first accountants counted on cuneiform by Tim Hartford. More on the topic in
Urbanization and Land Ownership in the Ancient Near East (Peabody Museum Bulletin, #7)  check also Labor in the Ancient World  both in a series edited by Michael Hudson and others.
From an article in the first book "Record-keeping served as a centralized control and scheduling device long before writing became a vehicle for personal self-expression, literature or abstract philosophy" says Michael Hudson in "From sacred enclave to temple to city", one of the articles in "Urbanization and land ownership in the ancient near east" edited by Michael Hudson and Baruch Levine."
Comment from Sreenivas Paruchuri There is a wonderful book by Peter Damerow et al of Max Planck Institute for the history of science, Berlin. In fact the MPIWG-Berlin had a large working group on Cuneiform and done some pioneering work. As a mathematician you may like to explore their website and also the person: P. Damerow. 

The original German title is: Informationsverarbeitung vor 5000 Jahren : frühe Schrift und Techniken der Wirtschaftsverwaltung im alten Vorderen Orient; Hildesheim, Franzbecker 2004 (1st ed. 1991)
Au: Peter Damerow; Hans J. Nissen and Robert K. Englund.

The book is translated into English: Archaic bookkeeping: writing and techniques of economic administration in the ancient near east, University of Chicago Press 1993.

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