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The preoccupation with the lex Aquilia that has characterised much of anglophone Roman law scholarship in recent decades might leave the bemused onlooker wondering what there could possibly be left to say. If the centuries of rigorous exegesis at the hands of dedicated Romanists, who doubtless had greater sensitivity for the nuances of the Latin texts than any lawyer working on Roman sources today, have failed to exhaust the Digest's mysteries, perhaps they are destined to rest unsolved. But this would downplay the importance of methodology and its development in Roman law scholarship. Although the same texts have been subjected to countless scrutineering interpretations, the way in which a given mind approaches a source can have a profound effect on the outcome of each analysis. For much of modernity the focus of Romanist scholarship has been on the identification of the ‘truth’ of the text, on the assumption that the Byzantine compilers of the sixth century through obfuscation or manipulation warped the message of classical law, in a sense mirroring the humanist endeavours of fifteenth-and sixteenth-century jurists. Though intellectually impressive, there is an inherent risk in such a method of twisting the source material to suit one's own argument. It is only in recent years that the approach of Romanist scholarship has snapped back to something reminiscent of the mos italicus of medieval Europe. Though we do not approach the sources of the Corpus Iuris Civilis with the same quasi-religious respect of those jurists, we are more willing than our immediate predecessors to take the texts at face value. On the supposition of textual authenticity, unless confronted with undeniable anachronism or linguistic implausibility, can we make sense of the source material? A return to this methodology, of explaining rather than editing, has encouraged a new generation of Roman lawyers to approach the sources with fresh eyes, and to dream up novel solutions to old problems.
To illustrate the impact of this shift in methodology, this chapter will consider an old chestnut: damages under Chapter 1 of the lex Aquilia, and in particular the differing views of Julian and Ulpian in D.220.127.116.11.
WISHART v Credit and Mercantile Plc  EWCA Civ 655 is an unusual priorities case. At its heart is an informal business partnership between two close friends: S and W. Together, the pair undertook a series of property developments. In all their ventures, S took the lead on financial matters. With the approaching sale of a particularly lucrative development, S and W considered how to spend their gains. W indicated that he would like to purchase a residential property for himself and his family, and entrusted the arrangements for the acquisition to S. W removed himself entirely from the process, failing even to look at the contract of sale. As such, he did not realise that S had inserted himself as the purchaser of the property. Upon sale, W and his family moved into the property, oblivious to the subterfuge. S then secured a loan of £500,000 on the property by way of a legal mortgage in favour of C&M. The sum was promptly gambled away, and S, now declared bankrupt, disappeared. C&M obtained possession of the property and sold it for £1.1 million, using just under £700,000 of the proceeds to recoup their loan and expenses. It was at this point that W re-entered the narrative, appearing before the court to argue that, by virtue of an overriding interest, he was entitled to the proceeds of the sale over C&M.
Middle Archaic earthen mound complexes in the lower Mississippi valley are remote antecedents of the famous but much younger Poverty Point earthworks. Watson Brake is the largest and most complex of these early mound sites. Very extensive coring and stratigraphic studies, aided by 25 radiocarbon dates and six luminescence dates, show that minor earthworks were begun here at ca. 3500 B.C. in association with an oval arrangement of burned rock middens at the edge of a stream terrace. The full extent of the first earthworks is not yet known. Substantial moundraising began ca. 3350 B.C. and continued in stages until some time after 3000 B.C. when the site was abandoned. All 11 mounds and their connecting ridges were occupied between building bursts. Soils formed on some of these temporary surfaces, while lithics, fire-cracked rock, and fired clay/loam objects became scattered throughout the mound fills. Faunal and floral remains from a basal midden indicate all-season occupation, supported by broad-spectrum foraging centered on nuts, fish, and deer. All the overlying fills are so acidic that organics have not survived. The area enclosed by the mounds was kept clean of debris, suggesting its use as ritual space. The reasons why such elaborate activities first occurred here remain elusive. However, some building bursts covary with very well-documented increases in El Niño/Southern Oscillation events. During such rapid increases in ENSO frequencies, rainfall becomes extremely erratic and unpredictable. It may be that early moundraising was a communal response to new stresses of droughts and flooding that created a suddenly more unpredictable food base.
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