Ancient Debt

Published: 05th June 2009
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A large number of us are under the impression that debt and credit are fairly modern inventions, and we are quick to blame money troubles on the credit card or easy loans. But the truth is much different. Civilised man has wrestled with these concepts for centuries, and even now in these modern times it could be said that we still haven't really grasped it, despite all the debt advice made available to us.



It has been argued that the recording of debt, and therefore the only concrete proof of the beginnings of it, starts at the very beginning of writing, with some even going as far as to say that debt was the very reason writing was invented. In those days before money as we know it today, people would trade goods, and these dealing were recorder with counters and eventually the first written records. In an area near Iraq, which was known as Mesopotamia, people would record transactions on clay tablets.



It might also be interesting note that in those days, there was no such thing as interest. It was considered common sense that one would pay back as much as they had lent, however it wasn't long before the concept of interest was developed, and the Sumerians are the first known civilisation to do so. The concept was originally born of the idea that lending someone 30 cattle would mean you were owed more, because the cattle would've reproduced.



With these loans and interest cam debt and debt used to be used to make people work harder. It was found that farmers in debt would work far harder than those not in, as the threat of foreclosure and slavery was a huge motivator.



Ancient Egypt saw the first regulation relating to debt and credit, and the first rules regarding the practice were drawn up. Interest wasn't usually charged on advances unlike today, and even some churches made ordinary business loans, charging around 20 percent on loans for silver, and up to 33 percent on grain. The code also stated that spouses or children sold to repay debt would work for 3 years for the 'creditor', and then would be freed.



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A large number of us are under the impression that debt and credit are fairly modern inventions, and we are quick to blame money troubles on the credit card or easy loans. But the truth is much different. Civilised man has wrestled with these concepts for centuries, and even now in these modern times it could be said that we still haven't really grasped it, despite all the debt advice made available to us.

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