Reserve fund

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Because people today have such difficulty in accepting the fact that the first banks were the temples built by communities we just put a few of the resources that verify that they were consistently linked, especially at the time of early Christianity.

These systems operating through temples allowed society a way of securing economic loyalty of the people but when carried to far often secured the people in a snare of bondage as surety or collateral for debt and owing tribute in the form of a temple tax.

  • "The first banks were probably the religious temples of the ancient world, and were probably established sometime during the third millennium B.C. Banks probably predated the invention of money. Deposits initially consisted of grain and later other goods including cattle, agricultural implements, and eventually precious metals such as gold, in the form of easy-to-carry compressed plates. Temples and palaces were the safest places to store gold as they were constantly attended and well built. As sacred places, temples presented an extra deterrent to would-be thieves. There are extant records of loans from the 18th century BC in Babylon that were made by temple priests/monks to merchants. By the time of Hammurabi's Code, banking was well enough developed to justify the promulgation of laws governing banking operations." Read full article at History of banking, EARLIEST BANKS
or at Banking Overview
  • "Like many other ancient civilizations, Greek banking was often centered around the Temple. Grecian temple bankers took deposits, made loans, and engaged in money-changing (i.e., exchanging currencies), as well as services in validating the purity and authenticity of coinage. Greek foreign exchange services were provided by merchants, money-changers, and pawnbrokers, and both private and city-government backed money lenders operated out of temple banks."
"The Bank of Delos operated through credit transfers, while silver and gold was vaulted in the treasuries of the Temple of Apollo. " History of Money: The Temple Bankers and Money-Changers of Ancient Greece & The Island of Delos By Knight of Coins, March 8, 2015
  • "Banking can be traced back to ancient Mesopotamia, where people tried to find secure places in temples and royal palaces in order to safely keep their grain and other goods. They usually made transfers recorded on receipts by both the depositors and their goods keepers and also a third party. The worldwide famous Code of Hammurabi makes reference to certain private houses in Mesopotamia which got involved in banking transactions, and laws regulating such operations."
"In Egypt, the centralized system and the excellent organization of harvests in state warehouses facilitated the development of the banking system." A Sketch History of Banking, Camelia Maria Manea, University of Pitesti
  • "The Parthenon also had a function as treasury of the Delian League and a reserve fund. For example, every tributary town was supposed to send an ambassador to the Panathenaea and offer a cow and a panoply.[1] This was again similar to the Persian example, because one of Persepolis' main functions was that of treasury. Both buildings, Apadana and Parthenon, were an empire's focus points of politics, religion, and finance, and it is possible that Athenian artists had learned from their older Ionian colleagues how the great king had invited his subjects to be his collaborators." Persian Influence on Greek architecture, Architecture: Parthenon frieze, All content copyright © 1995–2018 Livius.org. created in 2002; last modified on 25 November 2018.
  • "The list of treasures which, from the time of Perikles to the downfall of Athenian supremacy, was stored in the Parthenon and the other temples on the Akropolis, are among the most complete and curious documents which have been handed down to us on Greek marble.
"The treasures in the Parthenon itself, which was deposited there immediately after completion (B.C. 438), and which was called the treasure sacred to Athena, was composed of various precious objects dedicated by States or individuals, the tenth of the spoils of war, the money accruing from sacred lands, and lastly the balance of the income of the State not required for current expenses, and which was kept as a reserve fund only to be drawn upon for some special necessity.
"A board of ten treasures, appointed by lot yearly from the wealthiest class, took charge of this sacred deposit; and it was their duty on going out of office every year to take stock of the treasure, and to hand it to their successors as pe inventory. Every fifth year at the great Panathenaic festival, the registers of the four preceding years were inscribed on marble stelae, the series of which is nearly complete from B.C, 434 to the downfall of Athens, B.C. 404. The inventories specify a great variety of precious objects, adding the weight in every case where it could be ascertained. As we read through this list of statues, crowns, cups, lamps, necklaces, bracelets, rings, and other ornaments, all of gold or silver and many of them, doubtless, exquisitely fashioned, and..." "The silver mines of Laurium furnished one of the principal sources of Athenian revenue. These were leased by the State to individuals on certain conditions defined in documents...." The Contemporary Review, Volume 29, page 81 On Greek inscriptions, by A. Strahan, 1877 - Literature


  • The Archidamian War By Donald Kagan, Cornell University Press, 1990 - History - 392 pages. Writes in 1990 about "the great statue of Athena on the Acropolis" being melted down as a "reserve fund" to make coin to support the military efforts.
  • This is repeated in 2013 book A New History of the Peloponnesian War By Donald Kagan, Cornell University Press, Jan 14, 2013 - History - 455 pages,
"The common treasury of the league had been removed from the island of Delos to Athens, and located in the temple of Athena on the Acropolis. This transfer,—a bold step which Pericles had strongly advocated,—was a formal recognition of Athens as the capital of a wide empire. Almost all the cities which had originally been her free allies had now become her subjects; year by year their tribute flowed to the temple on her citadel. And these revenues were administered by Athenian officials, subject to the authority of Athens. The revenues proper to Athens herself had been greatly enlarged by the development of the silver mines of Laurium in Attica, and by the acquisition of gold mines in Thrace. Thus the organisation of finance had assumed a new political importance. It should be noticed that the idea of a public treasure—a permanent store on which the State could draw in emergencies—had not hitherto been fully worked out in a Greek democracy. The economical basis of the old Greek commonwealth was different from that to which we are accustomed. The Greek city was, in this aspect, more like a corporation possessing property, and paying its current expenses out of that property. The Greek citizens were like joint administrators of a trust fund, for the common benefit. To take a modern illustration on a small scale, we might compare them to the Fellows of a College, in whom is vested the administration of the College property. The Greek city depended very little on direct taxation of the citizen. Hence it had small opportunities of forming a public reserve fund of any magnitude. That would have had to be done mainly out of its annual income, and at the cost of retrenchments which would not have been generally popular. Of course, where a despot had contrived to obtain the supreme power in a Greek city, he could exact from his subjects the means wherewith to form a public treasure. Peisistratus did so, when he was despot of Athens; so also did the Sicilian despots, and many more. Thus, a power based on money had hitherto in Greece been characteristic of a tyranny, not of a free commonwealth. But Pericles saw that the imperial position of Athens, and the naval power on which her Empire rested, could be secured only by creating a public reserve fund on an adequate scale. And since the tribute paid by the subject allies was now at the absolute disposal of Athens; since, further, in any emergencies that might arise, the interests of Athens would be identified with those of her dependents; it was now comparatively easy for a statesman to effect this object. He was further assisted by the peculiar relation which existed between public finance and religion. The temples were the public banks of ancient Greece; the safest places of deposit. Under the provisions made by Pericles, the public funds lodged in the temple of Athena on the citadel were of three kinds. First, the fund designed to meet the current expenses of the State, which were consigned merely to the temporary guardianship of the goddess. Secondly, there were moneys which were formally consecrated to Athena, and which were made her own property. These could not be touched, except by way of loan from the goddess, and under a strict obligation to repay her; to take them in any other way would have been sacrilege. Thirdly, there were certain definite sums, also consecrated to her, which could not even be borrowed from her, except in certain specified cases of extreme need;—as if, for example, a hostile fleet threatened the Peiraeus. The care of these funds, and the administration of all the other sources of Athenian revenue, were organised under Pericles on a complete and elaborate system. Thus it was his merit to secure for a free State that financial stability which had elsewhere been only a pillar of despotism. We see an immediate result of this in the simple fact that the Peloponnesian war lasted 27 years. Without the treasure on the Acropolis, the naval resources of Athens must have collapsed in a very much shorter time." The Age of Pericles (1889)

by Richard Claverhouse Jebb, page 119.


  • AERARIUM "The state-treasury of Rome, into which flowed the revenues ordinary and extraordinary, and out of which the needful expenses were defrayed. It was kept in the basement of the temple of Saturn, under the charge of the gum story. A special reserve fund was the Aerarium sanctius, in which the proceeds of receipts from the manumission-tax (one twentieth of the freed slave's value) were deposited in gold ingots. When Augustus divided the provinces into senatorial and imperatorial, there were two chief treasuries. The senatorial treasury, which was still kept in the temple of Saturn, was left under the control of the senate, but only as a matter of formal right. Practically it passed into the hands of the emperors, who also brought the management of the treasuries under their own eye by appointing, instead of the quaestors, two praefecti aerarii taken from those who had served as praetors. Besides, they diverted into their own Fiscus all the larger revenues, even those that legally belonged to the Aerarium. When in course of time the returns from all the provinces flowed into the imperial treasury, the senatorial Aerarium continued to exist as the city treasury. The Aerarium militare was a pension-fund founded by Augustus in A.D. 6, for disabled soldiers. Its management was entrusted to three praeefecti aerarii militaris. It was maintained out of the interest on a considerable fund, and the proceeds of the heritage and sale duties."

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  1. a complete or impressive collection of things.