The book titledHistory of Middle East
Accounting” was published by the Turkish
Court of Accounts. It is an important
reference book, which is expected to take its
place among the key resources of accounting
history. It was prepared by the academicians
from Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Italy and
Turkey under the coordination of Prof. Dr.
Oktay Güvemli*.It consists of three volumes.
The Middle East has a special place in the
history of world accounting. However, it
hasn't been suciently examined and
evaluated until now. This book is the first
collective study presented by Turkish
a c c o u n t i n g historians. T h e future
generations will be able to publish works on
the history of accounting equipped with
much broader findings. However, this work
sheds lights on the fact that the history of
Middle East accounting holds a very special
position in the world. The detail summary of
the book that consists of seven chapters is
given below.
A research on the history of Middle East
accounting was implemented by around
twenty academicians for three years. An
encyclopedia styled study was completed in
2018 covering a period of nearly five thousand
years. The study begins with the earliest
records of bookkeeping from Egypt and
continues with the commercial relations
between Anatolia and Mesopotamia. After
Christ, the study deals with Byzantium,
Anatolian and Islamic recording cultures in
details. The last section of this encyclopedia
style work deals with the integration
processes of Middle Eastern and Western
accounting cultures. This brief paper aims to
explain the importance of this study for the
global accounting history literature and for
the Middle Eastern region.
Key words: Middle East, accounting culture.
1. Introduction
Accounting history is one of the latest
scientific disciplines of the 20th century.
There were few accounting historians in
Europe who individually studied and
published books on history of accounting.
However, its spread to other geographic
regions occurred mainly in the second half of
the 20th century. The establishment of the
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* Emeritus Prof. Marmara University.
organization titled Academy of Accounting
Historians (1972) had significant influence for
this proliferation. Thus, the establishment of
World Congresses of Accounting Historians
(1976) expedited the widespread of this new
scientific area.
Starting from the second period of the 20th
century, we observe brief information
regarding accounting and financial history in
therst sections of Turkish accounting
books. Although these informations are not
scientific, the love for history laid foundations
for future accounting history studies. In 2015,
around twenty academicians started working
on a project aiming to reveal the accounting
culture of the Middle East by benefiting from
earlier studies. An encyclopedia style three
volume book was produced and published in
2018. This short paper aims to promote this
study by briefly analyzing its seven main
sections between the period 3000 BC and
2000 AD. The following part of this analysis
deals with the period before Christ.
2. Findings in Middle East Region
Before Christ
2.1. Ancient Egypt
The first section of the book is prepared by
Prof. Shawki Farag who is considered as an
expert in the accounting culture of ancient
Egypt. He describes the details of a
remarkable recording culture which
appeared along the river Nile. This recording
culture ourished when self-sucient
agricultural communities began to yield an
economic surplus. There emerged a
population of priests, soldiers, merchants,
craftsmen, and scribes supported by the
gathered surplus. Eventually, it became
necessary to ensure the continued collection
of resources which represented the surplus
(Farag, 2019: 35). He asserts that accounting
records became necessary for the realization
of objectives thus enabling the scribe to be
accountable to his superiors. Prof. Farag
provides archive documents related to grain
records and craftsmanship.
2.2. International Trade Records Between
Anatolia and Mesopotamia
Dr. Halil Emre Akbaş and his colleagues
intended to exhibit the pioneering and
profundity of Anatolia and Mesopotamia in
world recording culture. Their study is based
on the numerous clay tablets which were
being excavated since 1948 in an area called
ltepe, approximately 20 km of Kayseri
province. Clay tablets contain documents
regarding settlement of accounts, sales of
goods, real estate, slaves, and bill payables.
These were archived mainly by Assyrian
traders and reveal the existence of a
systematic, organized trade between
Anatolia and Mesopotamia during 2000 - 1700
The clay tablets present information about
commercial institutions titled Warbatum and
Karum. It is observed that traders registered
their expenses and costs in details (Akbaş et
al. 2019:195). Another remarkable issue is the
cancellation of the bill regarding the debt
which was a subject of payment or collection
by registering the payments and group of the
debt made by the traders. Also, the traders
used to perform a kind of inventory work by
creating a collective list of the receivables
from time to time and registered this work.
Commercial relations between Mesopotamia
and Anatolia between 2000-1700 BC are
among the most important documents and
account settlement cultures of not only the
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Middle East but the world.
2.3. Metal Money Findings in Western
Prof. Suleyman Yükçü and his colleague Dr.
Gülşah Atağan exhibited a different culture of
Anatolia and described the initial weighted
systems that were used to mint metal money
in the world. After analyzing therst
weighted systems, they dwell upon the
appearance of the first money in Anatolia. We
understand from their section that
appearance of money can only be a product
of a rich civilization and geography.
The last sections of their study about the
Royal Road which starts from Ephesus,
passes through Sardis and extends to Ninova.
It is understood that this Road was used by
the Persians as well and enabled the transfer
of coinage culture to India and China after the
eradication of Lydians (Yükçü and Atağan,
2019:265). These can be considered as the
legacy of Anatolia to global accounting
3. Findings in Middle East Region After
3.1. Recording Culture of the Eastern Roman
Prof. Yusuf Sürmen and his colleagues
searched for the recording culture of the
Eastern Roman Empire (330 - 1453 AD) that
ruled the Middle Eastern territory for
centuries. Their difficulty reveals itself on the
appearance of historical documents which
were very little. Therefore, they focused
towards commercial transactions, taxation
and eventually the transition to double entry
bookkeeping. They give specific examples
regarding state accountancy by benefiting
from earlier records (Sürmen, 2019: 337).
They assert that the accounting practices of
the private sector and account practices in
dierent cultures were aected by the
developments in the Western Mediterranean
countries and in the Eastern Roman Empire.
The developments occurred in those days
played an important role in forming the basis
for the next accounting practices.
3.2. Islamic Recording Culture
Another long-lived recording culture
occurred during the era of Islam (750 - 1879
AD). Prof. Cengiz Toraman and his colleague
have described the importance and details of
a single-entry state accounting method in
Merdiban within three civilizations;
Abbasids (750-1258 AD), Ilkhanate (1256-1353
AD), and Ottomans (1299-1922 AD).
Ottomans perfected the method through
taxation practices, budgeting experiences,
and accounting departments.
We observe the usefulness of this method
especially in the foundations of taxation and
in the accountancy. Each foundation had its
own accounting and their budgeting
experiences was prepared in the annual
accounting reports. These reports (Toraman
et al. 2019: 636) were also preserved in the
central accounting department of the state
providing an efficient auditing system. This
section revealed an affective accrual system
within Ottoman state accountancy and also
the master-apprentice system of the earlier
3.3. Westernization Period of Accounting
Westernization period of accounting in the
Middle East begins with the Reorganization
Period of 1839 AD (Tanzimat) during the rule
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of the Ottoman Empire. The story of the
Ottoman Empire trying to level with the
superior Western forces in the 19th century
changed the accounting thought of Middle
East. Prof. Oktay Güvemli and his colleagues
explained the reasons of change and its
effects during the Republic era by analyzing
the period (1839 - 2011) in five chapters
(Güvemli, et al. 2019).
The years 1839-1879 involve commercial,
financial reforms and ends with the abolition
of the single sided accounting method,
Merdiban. The second stage (1879-1922)
involves establishment of commercial
chambers and commercial schools teaching
double entry bookkeeping. The third stage
(1923-1950) begi`ns with the establishment of
the Republic and involves the renovation of
commercial codes, tax laws, auditing
a u t h o ri t i es , an d c o m me r c ia l st a te
enterprises. The fourth stage (1950-1980)
dwells upon the liberal economic policies and
their effects on the accounting culture. The
fifth stage (1980-2011) is about the foreign
expansion of economy and a new integration
process with Western accounting systems.
The study also describes the eects of
globalization mainly after the commercial
code of 2011 and how it ended the
westernization process and began a new
globalization era for accounting practices.
3.4. Westernization Period of Accounting
Prof. Mehmet Özbirecikli and his colleagues
added one last section to the study. This
special section was formed to evaluate the
current status of Middle Eastern countries so
that audiences would understand the
development of their accounting cultures
(Özbirecikli et al. 2019). It is observed that
double entry bookkeeping method have
procured its dominance and now would be
the time for the completion of relations
between regional and international
accounting agencies.
4. Conclusion
Middle Eastern accounting culture has a
special place in the history of global
accounting. The history of accounting is a
culture of record keeping and account
settlements. This study would enlighten the
culture of record keeping in the Middle East
by providing archive documents ranging to
3000 BC. There is great richness in historical
records still waiting to be extracted in Middle
This work is a collective research of
respectable accounting historians. We hope
that next generations will publish better
works with much broader findings.
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Farag, S. (2019). The Development of Record Keeping in Ancient Egypt (3000 BC - 30 BC). In
History of Middle East Accounting (3000 BC - 2000 AD)(Vol. I, pp. 10-67). Ankara, Turkey: Court
of Accounts.
Akbaş, H. E., Alpaslan, H. İ, & Şensoy, F. (2019). Record Keeping Between Anatolia and
Mesopotamia Regarding the First International Trade (2000 BC - 1700 BC). In History of Middle
East Accounting (3000 BC - 2000 AD)(Vol. I, pp. 69-204). Ankara, Turkey: Court of Accounts.
Yükçü, S. and Atağan, G. (2019). Metal Money Findings in Western Anatolia The Persians and
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After (50 BC - 30 BC). In History of Middle East Accounting (3000 BC - 2000 AD)(Vol. I, pp. 205-
280). Ankara, Turkey: Court of Accounts.
Sürmen, Y., Köse, İ., & Bayraktar, Y. (2019). Record Keeping Culture in the Eastern Roman
Empire (Byzantium) (330 - 1453 AD). In History of Middle East Accounting (3000 BC - 2000
AD)(Vol. I, pp. 281-352). Ankara, Turkey: Court of Accounts.
Toraman, C., Karabulut, R., Apak, S. & Erol, M. (2019). Islamic Period in the History of Middle East
Accounting (750 - 1839 AD). In History of Middle East Accounting (3000 BC - 2000 AD)(Vol. II, pp.
355-668). Ankara, Turkey: Court of Accounts.
Güvemli, O., Oran, J., Güvemli, B. & Aslan, M. (2019). Westernization Period in the History of
Middle East Accounting: Late Ottoman and Republic Period (1839-2011 AD). In History of Middle
East Accounting (3000 BC - 2000 AD)(Vol. III, pp. 668-930). Ankara, Turkey: Court of Accounts.
Özbirecikli, M., Şen, İ.K., Atai, G. & Tosun, E.Ç. (2019). Accounting Practices in the Middle East
Countries in the Early Twenty-First Century. In History of Middle East Accounting (3000 BC -
2000 AD)(Vol. III, pp. 935-976). Ankara, Turkey: Court of Accounts.