The Written Record

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The following is not legal advice.

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“It is not deeds or acts that last: it is the written record of those deeds and acts” Elbert Hubbard (American editor, publisher and writer 1856-1915)

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All parties should have extensive opportunity to develop a written record. The written record should consist of relevant documents and statements or claims by the parties. It should contain evidence of activities/events, communications and witness testimony. Overall, an account of administrative procedure, an account of due process of law.

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The nature of the subject matter of the record indicates what venue or jurisdiction one or both parties might be operating under. Whatever law form or forms is governing the record/the contract(s), should be addressed in the beginning stage of your establishing a written record.

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Now for some interesting and fun history on ancient record-keeping: See the full article at http://www.investopedia.com/articles/financialcareers/09/ancient-accounting.asp. The following are excerpts.

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Ancient accounting methods emerged thousands of years ago – perhaps more than 10,000 years ago – in what we now regard as the Middle East region. Sumerians in Mesopotamia, Babylonians and the ancient Egyptians recognized the need for counting and measuring the results of labor and effort. As these ancient societies built more complex civilizations, the need to conduct simple arithmetic, writing and trade emerged. These ingredients eventually led to the formations of currency, capital, private property arrangements and systems for commerce and public management.

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As a result, various accounting techniques were used to keep track of agricultural products and land use, maritime and land-based trade, animals, and labor. Taxation, public works projects, military initiatives and conquest eventually necessitated record-keeping as a way for rulers and their advisors to maintain social order. (Find out how these two have grown hand-in-hand throughout our modern history in Accounting And Taxes, Like Peanut Butter And Jelly.)

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Earliest Accounting
Jericho, an ancient city located near the Jordan River in the West bank is estimated to be at least 11,000 years old, and is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities. It is believed that this society used a barter system until about 7,500 B.C., when simple tokens and clay balls (with various shapes) came to represent inventory figures for agricultural goods including wheat, sheep and cattle. The use of tokens eventually expanded, and tokens and envelopes helped to formulate an ancient version of what may have been a “balance sheet“. These tokens and envelopes helped to identify specific parties with a claim to specific inventory. Tokens also gradually came to represent completed trade transactions. (To learn all about the history of money through the ages, see From Barter To Bank Notes.)

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Thousands of years later, in Sumerian cities, early bookkeepers accounted for currency, precious metals and goods by marking clay tablets with the end of sticks. These tablets were dried and hardened in order to form records.

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Egypt used pictures, words and numbers to keep tabs on agricultural production (so that it could feed its ever-increasing population), and to keep track of ceremonies and religious events, monument and public works projects, and labor control. Contemporary accounting uses notions of trust, accuracy and ethics as the underpinnings of a successful career. Egyptian rulers were much more inclined to use fear and pain as the basis for accurate record-keeping. Irregularities found by Egyptian royal auditors resulted in a fine, mutilation or death.

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The Code of Hammurabi to the Roman Empire

The Code of Hammurabi was created around 1760 B.C. in Babylon. Among its purposes, the Code of Hammurabi standardized weights and measures, and provided guidance on commercial transactions and payments. (Learn more in The History Behind Insurance.)

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The emergence of accounting in ancient Greece supported the country’s financial and banking system. The Greeks’ adoption of the Phoenician writing system, as well as the invention of a Greek alphabet, helped to facilitate Greek record-keeping. Similarly, record-keeping helped to track the progress of engineering marvels that survive to this day. Additionally, accounting helped to underpin the Romans’ finance and legal system, and combined with the use of currency, which came into use in 300 B.C., Rome’s advanced commerce system helped to propel its geopolitical power far beyond any prospective challenger.

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Accurate and timely record-keeping – even thousands of years ago – aided in making critical decisions. Not accounting for a couple dozen cattle (by misplacing a token or two) may not mean much in today’s terms, but back then, it could have meant starvation for an entire village. In today’s accounting systems, the methods of calculation are more complex, but the need for accuracy still applies. (Looking for more history? Follow accounting from its roots in ancient times to the profession we now depend on in The Rise Of The Modern-Day Bean Counter.)

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