A monastery is a building or structure or a series of buildings and structures that are set apart from regular civilization for religious commune. Monastics is based off the hermit lives of Prophet Elijah and John the Baptist. Monks are the usual inhabitants and live in such structures after taking specific vows. The early centuries of Christianity, especially in Africa, saw a thriving of monastic activity among the faithful. During the Middle Ages monastic institutions helped to preserve writings from antiquity that would otherwise have been lost.