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Argument Task for GRE

Woven baskets characterized by a particular distinctive pattern have previously been found only in the immediate vicinity of the prehistoric village of Palea and therefore were believed to have been made only by the Palean people. Recently, however, archaeologists discovered such a "Palean" basket in Lithos, an ancient village across the Brim River from Palea. The Brim River is very deep and broad, and so the ancient Paleans could have crossed it only by boat, and no Palean boats have been found. Thus it follows that the so-called Palean baskets were not uniquely Palean.

Write a response in which you discuss what specific evidence is needed to evaluate the argument and explain how the evidence would weaken or strengthen the argument.



Argument Response



According to the information given in the argument it is mentioned that Woven baskets of distinct pattern have previously been found only in “Palea” but according to the new discovery they can find some of the baskets in Lithos which is an ancient village across the Brim River from Palea. As mentioned in the argument, Brim river is deep and broad, so the possibility of moving from Palea to Lithos is only via boat. Now as there is no evidence of Palean boats, it is stated that so-called Palean baskets were not uniquely Palean.

Now there are few loopholes in the argument made. First of all evidence of Palean boats is not found but there is no mentioning of Lithos boat which is quite surprising as Lithos people can also cross the river through their boats. There is one more possibility of exchanging gifts on occasions or festivals between Lithos people and Palean people. This weakens the argument conclusion that Palean baskets are not uniquely Palean.

We can also think of other possibility that maybe due to some natural disaster like flood the baskets due to their lightweight nature flew across the river or maybe on certain occasions Palean people offer baskets to the river as it is a tradition followed in earlier times. So the argument is weakened when considered the possibilities mentioned above. It would have been strong enough if the word “Palean” before the boats is not mentioned in the argument because that would eliminate the possibility of any means of transport available to both of them.

In the argument there is no mention of time means the gap between the discoveries made in Palean and Lithos. It may occur that the time gap is huge which allows transportation of baskets from Palean to Lithos via natural or unnatural means. Unnatural means include marriage between Palean female and Lithos male. It may happen that she brought that basket from her native to Lithos as a token of remembrance. So considering all the parameters, the argument mentioned is not strong enough to conclude that Palean baskets are not uniquely Palean.




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First off, I very much discourage you from using the term "unnatural" to describe marriage between a Palean female and a Lithos male, it comes across as xenophobic.  

You are on the right track, but I feel that you are missing a few important pieces of information.  Let's review what we do know:

1.  Baskets found in the immediate vicinity of a prehistoric village, Palea, have a distinctive weave/woven pattern.   

2.  Because of the location of the found baskets, it is believed they were created by Paleans.  

3.  There has been a recent discovery of a "Palean" basket in Lithos, an ancient village across the Brim River from Palea.  

4.  The Brim River is broad and deep.  

5.  No Palean boats have been found.

From this, the author concludes that the basket found in Lithos is unique to Lithos, and thus not unique to Palea, based solely on the idea that since no Palean boats have ever been found, therefore Paleans could not have crossed the Brim over to Lithos.  A weak argument, for sure.  

The key is to build only from what you know.  We don't know if the inhabitants of Lithos had boats, but that is not necessary information.  

What else do we know?  Well:

6. Palean baskets are distinctive.  Distinctive; meaning uniqueone of a kind.  

7.  The Lithos basket is described as being "Palean".  Here, the quotation marks are being used to emphasise the word  Palean.  The emphasis could very well mean that the basket found in Lithos was indeed one of those unique Palean baskets, or, it could simply mean that it was Palean-like.  Similar, but not equal.  

8.  Vicinity can certainly mean neighborhood or direct area, it can also mean a "surrounding area".  Immediate, in the sense, means "near".  So, according to the passage, the baskets were found near the village of Palea, not in it.  

9.  Palea is described as being prehistoric with Lithos described as being ancient.  Ancient can very well mean prehistoric but prehistoric distinctly means "before written history".  Being the GRE, my money is on Palea being the older village.  Every word in the passage was deliberately chosen.  There is also no mention of other types of pottery.  


As I wrote, you are on the right path with your essay.  Just keep in mind that with the GRE, everything is done with purpose.  Using what I know from the passage, it can be rewritten as:

Woven baskets believed to be unique to the Palean village, a prehistoric village alongside the formidable Brim River, have until recently only been found in archeological digs in areas just outside the village's parameter.  Across the Brim River lies another archeological site; the ancient, but not as old, village of Lithos.  Here, a woven basket of similar, but not the same, weave of the Palean basket has recently been found.  Because there is no discernable way for how the two villages may have interacted, it is thus concluded that the woven baskets found at the Palea site are not unique to Palea.  

My passage says the same thing as the prompt but hopefully it makes the prompt easier to understand.  I am not suggesting that you do not understand the prompt yourself, just showing you one way of going about it.  Of course, there are others.  

You are also tasked with answering the question What evidence is needed to evaluate the passage, not, is the passage right or wrong?  The question is telling you that there is missing information and is asking you what information is needed to either make the conclusion more plausible or to make it less plausible and not whether you agree with the conclusion or not.  

I'd also stick to one theme instead of tossing out numerous ideas.  


In the passage, it is concluded that Lithos could not have possibly acquired baskets from Palea based on the one idea that currently there is no evidence to suggest the Paleans were boat builders, and thus, did not have a means to cross the Brim River.  This conclusion is stating that both villages had existed at the same time and that neither village possessed the technology, let alone there being other means, of visiting one another.   Simply put, there could have been available to them other ways to cross the Brim.  

For one, and assuming that both villages were already established, perhaps during their time the Brim river were not as deep or as wide.  Perhaps a retreating glacier, melting as it went, is the reason the Brim is now as wide and as deep we now know it to be.  Simply put, in their day villagers may have been able to walk across.  Trading goods and ideas with each other very well could have been a common activity.  One such idea that may have been traded was the art of basket weaving.  

Thus, the Palean baskets were unique to their culture.  



Inhabitants of the village of Lithos periodically crossed the Brim River on foot to explore what was then to them the ancient village of Palea.  Inspired by its unique weave, Lithosians attempted to recreate the particular pattern of the "Palean basket" only to instead develop their own style of weave that was similar to the weave of the Palean basket but unique on its own.  

Thus, the Palean baskets were unique to their culture.  


To add:  what if they tied logs together with vines?  


Or something like that.  



Edited by Crucial BBQ
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