Add Your Heading Text Here

Fall 2023 | M 13 – 16

Ancient Bureaucracies



The Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations (History)
St. George
Room: AP
Clemens Reichel

Where were taxes first collected? When was the first receipt issued? What did the first account ledgers look like? This course offers an introduction to the development of early bureaucracies in ancient Mesopotamia (Iraq), Iran and Syria. Find out how accounting procedures evolved after 6,500 BC, from closing storage containers in Neolithic villages with seals and sealings to complex recording procedures in urban settings that ultimately led to the development of writing on clay tablets around 3,100 BC. Learn how different patterns of irrigation in river-based agricultural societies such as Mesopotamia, Egypt, and China led to similar yet distinct systems of resource management and administration, using different writing materials (e.g. clay tablets, papyrus) based on available raw materials. And see how bureaucratic procedures, while helping to maximize efficiency in an ancient society, could also create a lack of flexibility, ultimately leading to political decline or collapse.