One purpose served by the monastery was to preserve Western civilization. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the monasteries served as archives for what was left of its literature. Many of these works were painstakingly copied by the monks. The monasteries were the centers for academic activity as over the years, the monks would read the ancient works and make their own comments in the margins of the pages. These monasteries served as the foundation for the rise of the nation state that started in the later Middle Ages.