This paper examines detailed historical material drawn from primary sources to explore the role of accounting practices in the functioning of several key stages of the redistributive economy of the Middle Kingdom, ancient Egypt. First, the paper attends to the role of accounting in securing a regular flow of commodities to the state, in the form of taxation in kind. The historical material suggests clearly that accounting practices played a crucial role in levying and collecting precise tax liabilities, and in monitoring the storing of commodities in state granaries and storehouses. The second level of analysis is concerned with the role of accounting in coordinating the outflow of commodities to consumption units focusing on two examples. The first relates to the role of accounting in the distribution of food provisions to members of the Royal family and palace dependents while on a journey; the second examines the role of accounting in the writing and execution of a series of contracts to promote the mortuary cult of a dead individual. In both cases, the paper argues that the accounting practices were linked strongly to the social, political and economic contexts within which these accounting practices functioned.

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