Remember that best seller – How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland’s Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe – written by Thomas Cahill?
“Not only did St. Patrick bring Christianity to Ireland, he instilled a sense of literacy and learning that would create the conditions that allowed Ireland to become ‘the isle of saints and scholars’ – and thus preserve Western culture while Europe was being overrun by barbarians.”
Cahill tells the story of how Europe evolved from the classical age of Rome to the medieval era. Not only did Irish monks and scribes maintain the very record of Western Civilization – copying manuscripts of Greek and Latin writers, both pagan and Christian, while libraries and learning on the continent were forever lost . . . when the seeds of culture were replanted on the European continent, it was from Ireland that they were germinated.
Another artifact of incomparable historic significance is the Rosetta Stone. When finally translated, the Rosetta Stone gave the world a glimpse into civilizations far older the the Roman Empire.
Words laboriously copied by the monks and scribes onto parchment, the Rosetta Stone, are all tangible records, solid things you can hold in your hands – or touch, since the Rosetta Stone weighs about 760 kilograms.
Technology is both ephemeral and ever-changing. Will our present civilization be preserved forever on electronic books?