Feature: Journal of Late Antique Religion and Culture volume 11 – Javier Martínez & Patricia González

The latest article from the Journal of Late Antique Religion and Culture (JLARC), entitled “Knowledge and specialised trades in the late antique West: medicine vs engineering”, was published on 8th January. Its authors Javier Martínez and Patricia González compare and contrast the trades of medicine and engineering in the Roman world, and provide a theory as to why the Romans’ medical skills were mostly passed on to later generations while their engineering skills were soon lost.

Read the whole article at: https://jlarc.cardiffuniversitypress.org/articles/abstract/10.18573/j.2017.10451/

The high degree of technical and scientific development accomplished in the Roman world is quite staggering. The construction of concrete vaults still standing today, and unsurpassed until the Modern period, is proof of their engineering skills. Similarly, Roman medics were capable of practising eye surgery and embryotomies on patients who survived such interventions. However, with the collapse of the Roman Empire in the West during the long fifth century and the emergence of Christianity, popular imagination sees these two sciences collapsing into the Dark Ages. While this is not absolutely true, it is not completely false either. In the Iberian and Gaulish examples we analyse in this paper, we want to put forward how engineering all but disappeared, while Roman medicine continued and was preserved through the Middle Ages and into modern times.
Complex techniques and specialised instruments, including vaulting and levelling, seem to have been lost in sixth- and seventh-century constructions. All new buildings are much simpler in design and techniques, even if built to large scale, because the problem was not the lack of skilled builders but the lack of trained engineers and architects who could do the necessary calculations. The specific example of aqueducts and their abandonment, and the way new churches were built, serve to illustrate this point. In medicine, however, there is a clear continuity of old Roman practices during late antiquity, partly promoted and protected by the Church. Only a few specific elements and tools seem to have been lost, while most generic and specialised sets of knowledge continued.
We propose that some of the reasons behind these diverting paths in the two sciences reside in the way these sets of specialised knowledge had been transmitted in the Roman world, underlining the weakness of Roman overspecialisation. Engineering was taught either through the army or through private apprenticeship systems, was limited almost entirely to men, and flourished during the periods of economic bonanza when large projects were carried out. The Roman elites would have a certain knowledge of construction and architecture basics as part of their cursus honorum, but this was never proper training – the engineer was not a socially privileged position. In this way, once the Empire collapsed, the army disbanded, and large building projects came to an end until the late sixth century. By then all chains of training in the West seem to have been terminally disrupted (as opposed to what happened in the Roman East). Medicine, on the other hand, was a very developed science, but it was not concentrated in a few hands. Army medics and surgeons existed, but they were not the only ones: municipal medics, trained slaves, herbalists, midwives, priests, even perfume makers, all shared fractions of the vast corpus of Roman medical science. It was accessible to men and women, and it was kept in high social esteem as well, so the transmission of medical knowledge was not as limited as engineering and not tied to the fate of the Empire.

JLARC

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Season’s Greetings from our blog family

If you’re following this blog, you may be interested to know that it has some close relatives! Three of the Cardiff University Press journals have their own blog sites, which are run by members of their editorial teams. There is also the Cardiff University Open Access team blog, which is very relevant to us as an Open Access publisher.

https://www.bsdj.org.uk/blog
“The Editor’s Blog” of The British Student Doctor Journal was created in September 2016.  It discusses ethical matters relating to medicine and publishing, and provides fascinating insights from the editors and section editors on how the journal is run.

https://mastudiesrn.wordpress.com/
This is the blog of the Martial Arts Studies Research Network, where the idea of our Martial Arts Studies journal was first conceived. It highlights new academic publications on martial arts, and provides detailed information on the Network’s popular annual conference and other activities.

http://www.romtext.org.uk/blog/
The Romantic Textualities blog is the longest-standing member of our family, having been set up in March 2013. A wide variety of Romantic literature topics (and bloggers) are represented, often with in-depth discussions taking place over a series of posts.

https://cardiffunioa.wordpress.com/
The Cardiff University Open Access blog was launched in International Open Access week 2017. Maintained by the University Library Service’s Open Access Team, the blog provides useful advice and news about Open Access, both at Cardiff University and externally.

Why not follow one or more of our blog family members, to keep yourself up to date with the latest developments in their areas of interest? Happy reading!

The Cardiff University Press team wishes you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda!

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Discovering more Open Access resources

At Cardiff University Press we’ve always been proud of our status as a 100% Open Access (OA) publisher, providing free and unrestricted access to our publications for anyone with an internet connection. But we’re just a small part of the OA revolution: there’s a huge range of other academic content openly available, with countless new publications being added every day.  Here are some ideas for other OA collections you may like to explore, put together in a neat guide by our colleagues in the University’s Open Access team.

Do have a browse through what these sites have to offer! Worldwide access to high-quality information, at no cost, available 24/7 – what’s not to love?

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How we got here

The idea of setting up Cardiff University Press originated back in 2013 within a number of academic Schools, supported by the University Library Service. The vision was to be committed to innovation and excellence in publishing, for the benefit of both academia and the wider external community. In early 2014, following discussions with all three Colleges and approval from the University Executive Board, the project was given the go ahead to develop “a Cardiff University Press online brand”. A Scholarly Publications Manager was appointed, and the first meeting of what was to become our Editorial Board was held in November 2014.

2015 saw the appointment of our Executive Officer, and our first web pages began to take shape, along with general principles, selection criteria and other publication guidelines. In March 2015, JOMEC Journal became the first journal title to be officially accepted for publication, and supplied our first journal issue four months later. Martial Arts Studies and Romantic Textualities were accepted for publication soon afterwards.

Cardiff University Press was officially launched on 9th July 2015. Shortly before Christmas of that year Open Journal Systems (OJS) was adopted as our hosting platform for our publications (which had swiftly grown to five titles).

During the first six months of 2016 six more titles were accepted for publication, covering subject areas and disciplines from all three Colleges. The Press was also aware of an increased interest from researchers to facilitate monograph publishing.

Two student representatives joined the Editorial Board in January 2017, as part of our ongoing commitment to the professionalisation of students.  In July we formed a partnership with Ubiquity Press to enable future monograph publishing and larger range of online services to editors, authors and readers. We launched our new hosting platform, web pages and Press blog on Wednesday 25th October 2017, during International Open Access Week.

We’re hoping to launch our monograph publishing activities in early 2018. In the meantime, do contact us to express your interest in publishing a monograph with us.