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In the days of the Roman Empire, which stretched from North Africa and the Middle East to Scotland—the Romans hadn’t quite subdued those Norsemen yet—trade and commerce could travel the Roman roads in relative safety, although piracy was still common on the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas, and insurance contracts often were taken out on shipments, depending on the quality of the vessel.

The Justinian Code (Corpus Juris Civilis Iustinianus) included the earlier Rhodian law of jettison, that when some goods had to be thrown overboard to save the vessel, those whose goods survived shared in the loss on the basis of the general average value of what was sacrificed.

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