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Law Text Culture

Abstract

A ruined hull of a wooden boat, held upright by rust-coloured metal supports, lay on the edge of a Venetian canal. The vessel was nested among industrial shipping equipment and operational boats in the complex of former shipyards and armories known as the Venetian Arsenal, the largest industrial enterprise of pre-industrialised Europe and a site crucial to the economic and military power of the Venetian Republic until its fall in 1797. The wrecked hull didn’t seem out of place here – one might reasonably think that it was awaiting repair or perhaps was a forgotten relic of a bygone time. Only the presence of a temporary barrier erected around the boat marked it as something other than what it appeared to be, something other than a ruined ship sitting in a former shipyard.

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