The history of accounting

Accounting has been an important practice over thousands of years. This ancient practice is not simply about adding up numbers and hoping to keep accurate records over the years, it is about honesty in business practice and maintaining an sense of trust and accuracy in the work that is done. Accountants have been for centuries the centurions of good financial business, and those who allow others to have confidence in the work of a company. This noble profession is often taking for granted, seen as unglamorous and tedious. But truly, it is the work of an accountant to give the general public the confidence it needs to trust businesses to maintain honest and true records of their financial transactions. Without the systems of accountability inherent in an accountant’s job, the ability to trust and maintain faith in businesses would be long gone.

Accounting began in ancient days and can be traced all the way back to ancient civilization, specifically ancient Mesopotamia. The practice of accounting developed alongside other developments such as writing, counting, and the monetary system. Ancient traces of bookkeeping also exist in Iran, and the Babylonians and Egyptians had systems of auditing in these days as well. These systems have been in place for as long as humankind has used monetary systems. Indeed, by the time the Romans had invaded these places during the time of Emperor Augustus, the government was able to access very detailed financial information.

As time and technology progressed, so did accounting. The practice of double entry bookkeeping was developed during medieval times in Europe, moving from very basic recording to more detailed work as humanity progressed. We saw a split in accounting when joint-stock companies came into existence and business accounting became a critical development. At this time, financial accounting and management accounting became two separate entities, as this was necessary for the management of joint stock companies.

It was not until the nineteenth century that accounting became an organized profession. As early as 1880, we begin to see professional bodies in England merging to become the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, a body committed to maintaining the integrity of accountants and the profession.

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