Is it possible to get a variable state at a specific block number? Let's take the balance mapping in an ERC20 contact for example. I want to know which user had what balance at a specific time (blocknumber). Copying the balance into another map should be costing too much gas. is there a way to have a smart contract see the state of a variable at a specific block with solidity? Or any other gas efficient way to copy a map into another smart contract?

  • There is the MiniMe Token that implements historical balances at a given block number with the function balanceOfAt(). Even you can fork the token and keep the history.
    – Ismael
    Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 4:35

2 Answers 2


A contract can only see the current state when it executes, not previous states. This restriction allows validating nodes to work only with the current state, rather than needing to store and be able to access all the previous states.

In theory it should be possible to have a contract storing block hashes, and have the user provide a merkle proof showing that a given piece of data is in the state tree for a previous block. However, I don't know of any practical implementations of this.

If you control the contract where the data is written, one option would be to write a complete history to storage. However, this will make normal operations costly. You could do the same thing more cheaply by only writing the hash of the history, and requiring the user to resend the relevant history.

  • There's a javascript library eth-proof that can generate some proofs.
    – Ismael
    Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 4:32
  • What do you mean by'only writing the hash of the history, and requiring the user to resend the relevant history could you please give a small example? @Edmund Edgar
    – alper
    Commented May 1, 2018 at 8:22
  • How does eth_getStorageAt work then? Could we rely on eth_getStorageAt without writing the complete history? requiring the user to resend the relevant history, by this, are we expecting the user to save the entire history on the client side...
    – noooooooob
    Commented Dec 12, 2018 at 3:51

No It is not possible in Solidity.

curl --header "Content-Type: application/json" -X POST --data '{"jsonrpc":"2.0", "method": "eth_getStorageAt", "params": ["ox_YOUR_SMART_CONTRACT_ADDRESS", "0x_INTEGER_POSITION_OF_STATE_VARIABLE_IN_CONTRACT", "0x_BLOCK_NUMBER"], "id": 1}' localhost:8545

With the above curl, you will be able to get the state of each and every variable in the smart contract at the specified block number.

Hope will be useful for your first question.

  • Quite a detailed answer, the curl line included makes it very usable. But it looks like the question is specifically about Solidity, so probably the first line of the answer should start with a "No".
    – Utgarda
    Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 13:28
  • "Yes" you are right, updated the answer
    – M. Gopal
    Commented Sep 27, 2018 at 4:33

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