By Stephen C. McCluskey
Isis, Vol.81:1 (1990)
Introduction: Western Europe produced few scientific achievements during the period from the fifth to the tenth centuries. Although the early Middle Ages maintained a tenuous contact with the science of antiquity, Roman science itself provided a poor foundation for the construction of a new science. Yet the Dark Ages were succeeded by that remarkable endeavor of scholars from the Latin West to seek out Greco-Arabic science and assimilate it into their own intellectual tradition.
This search for scientific knowledge has significant implications, for we seek only what we know of and value. If there was little scientific progress in the early Middle Ages, a rudimentary scientific activity was nonetheless essential to that later quest for learning. Monasteries were a major source of stability and the principal focus of learning during this unsettled period, and we should look to them if wer are to characterize more precisely this scientific activity, its context, and its development.