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The roofline is crenellated, more for decorative effect than for defence purposes. This type of building, which could be extended to any length simply by the addition of extra bays, was to have an important influence on later constructions in the Piazza; and as we shall see, it shares its two-storey arcades with some of the early Veneto-Byzantine palaces. There is a curious time lag between religious and secular architecture in medieval Venice. The scarcity of surviving domestic buildings from the period of the final rebuilding of San Marco in the later eleventh century can be partly explained by the fact that many of the early lagoon houses were built not of brick or stone – or even ancient spoils – but of wood; and a series of terrible fires in the eleventh century ravaged almost every part of the city, and obliterated many of the early wooden dwellings. The more modest houses were, out of economic necessity, rebuilt in wood over and over again, despite the constant danger of fire; but from about the twelfth century onwards the wealthier families began to erect more durable palaces of brick with stone detailing. Another important explanation is the economic one. It was in the thirteenth century, the period of the Fourth Crusade and the Venetian victories over the Genoese at Acre in 1258, Settepozzi in 1263 and Trapani in 1266, that Venetian maritime supremacy in the Adriatic became firmly established although the Genoese still remained potentially dangerous rivals. By this stage Venetian merchants dominated trade in grain and salt in the Adriatic. They also had important entre- pot trade in silks and spices from the East, and wool and metals from northern Europe.
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