- The necessity of keeping reliable and durable records of complex economic transactions was the primary motive for the development of writing in Mesopotamia. The wide network of exchange relations and central control that characterized the economyof the Uruk period(mid-fourth millennium B.C.) led to the formation of bureaucratic structures and systems of bookkeeping, which assigned responsibility of particular sectors to administrative units supervised by “heads of department” within a hierarchical order. In all subsequent historical periods, this fundamental structure of the administration remained the same, although with varying degrees of complexity. All major institutions that engaged in production needed an administrative apparatus to keep track of wages, rations, and other costs incurred for employees, as well as of quantities of goods expended and produced. Hence archaeologists have discovered administrative archives of private estates and “firms,” in addition to those attached to temples, palaces, and other forms of state organizations. The more centralized the state’s control over resources became, the greater the need for administrative records. The greatest concentration of such sources in the second millennium belongs to the time of the Third Dynasty of Ur, with its highly developed system of taxation. The Neo-Assyrian state archivesrecovered from the imperial capitals also number thousands of tablets and give testimony to the efficiency of Assyrian administration. High officials were often recruited from elite families. In Assyria a significant proportion were eunuchs. From the Neo-Babylonian period, there are temple archives that give details of agricultural production, as well as archives from private companies, sometimes spanning several generations, that specialized in loans and investment in various economic sectors.
Historical Dictionary of Mesopotamia. EdwART. 2012.