constituted an important prerequisite for the establishment and development of bookkeeping and accounting. Overwhelming as the evidence of writing capability and capacity may be in the ancient Mesopotamia, evidence of activities that predate writing suggests that some form of systematic record-keeping (or bookkeeping) might have existed before writing was invented. Lloyd (1978) gave an interesting account of how Mesopotamian 24
civilisation (including bookkeeping) commenced about 1000 years before writing. According to Jones (1956), ancient Mesopotamians were "obsessive bookkeepers". As Garbutt (1981, 11) suggests, the evidence certainly suggests that accounting preceded writing. In addition, the appearance of language in some civilisations of ancient Mesopotamia and the use to which it was put would support the hypothesis that accounting may be the mother of literacy (Glautier 1983, 57). Regrettably, however, Littleton's (1966, 12) suggestion that the art of writing preceded the emergence of "systematic bookkeeping" disposed of, rather than demand an answer to the crucial question: "Which came first; accounting or writing?". However, as Garbutt (1981, 11) concludes both may originate from a desire to meet the needs of trade. University Libr2ry Hull 25
CHAPTER THREE EXISTENCE OF MA THEMATICAL KNOWLEDGE IN ANCIENT IRAQ
3.1 INTRODUCTION About 2500 BC, clay tablets were used for pictographic writing, but the most primitive beginnings of written numbers date back to about 2,000 BC, when writing was invented by the ancient Egyptians and Mesopotamians to record information about transactions between persons and on family and legal matters in Mesopotamian cities. The pictographic tablets and the invention of mathematics can be considered as the points of departure for modern accounting. However, it is necessary first to show that mathematics (computation and use of abstract numbers) in ancient Iraq. Most of what is known about Mesopotamian mathematics came from two types of cuneiform mathematical texts: the tablets used for multiplication and other purposes and the tablets containing practice problems. Both texts are attested for old Babylonian (in th south of Iraq now), since about 1900 BC. It is argued (Kilmer 1960) that no previous stages of the historical development which led to the old Babylonian texts nor any evidence for continuation of the tradition across the millenniums which separate the two text groups are known except for a small group of mathematical texts described as the "coefficient texts" which serve basically practical purposes such as solving geometrical problems. Some examples of these types of texts will be discussed in this chapter while what is called economic texts, which point to some sort of mathematical knowledge for purposes such as calculating interest and preparing accounts for commerce and business will be discussed in later chapters, especially in Chapter Six.