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GRE Argument Essay: Woven Baskets In Palea - With A Free Essay Review

“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.”

The author’s conclusion of the uniqueness of Palean baskets would be accurate if it was not unfounded. Without key specific evidence the author’s argument cannot be validated.

The people of Palea and Lithos must have some means of transportation in order to interact. Palean people may have been without boats, but they may have had other means of travel. We do not know if Paleans may have lacked the resources needed to make boats or if Lithos villagers did. Lithos’ villagers may have had boats, thus allowing them to bring back artifacts from other villages. Without knowing the resources within the two villages we are left to make assumptions.

Trading was a common act amongst ancient villages. It was and is still a common way for everyone to obtain their needs. Paleans boats were not found, but boats made by other villages may have been discovered. In order to obtain boats or other needed resources Paleans may have traded their baskets with Lithos. If close by villages, such as Lithos, were found contain Paleans baskets then trading would be a viable option.

Palean baskets shouldn’t be discredited from being distinctly Palean until further and accurate evidence is given.


Essay review

Your first sentence doesn't say much more than "the argument would be accurate if it were not inaccurate!" If you want to say the argument is unfounded, then just say the argument is unfounded. But you don't need to say that, you just need to "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." The presupposition of these instructions is that the argument could be true, and you are tasked with determining how one would find out whether it is true or not.

You conclude your essay with the claim that we cannot decide whether Palean baskets are unique to Palea "until further ... evidence is given." That is exactly right, but you need to specify what evidence you want to see. You only do this implicitly in the body of your essay.

Presumably, for instance, you want to know whether there is evidence of there having been other, non-Palean boats in the region. You need to state that explicitly. Like this: "In order to evaluate the argument, we need to know whether there is evidence of other, non-Palean boats in the region. If there is evidence of other boats, then etc." Even if such evidence did not exist, however, that fact would not rule out the possibility that you are interested in here (the possibility that there was trading between Lithos and Palea). Obviously, if there was such trading, there might be evidence confirming the fact. So again, you would need to write something like: "We also need to know whether there is any evidence whatsoever of trade between Lithos and Paleas, such as etc. Such evidence would suggest etc."

Best, EJ.
Submitted by: Brucev

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