ARG-156

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.


The author of this article argues that since a type of basket that is originally thought to be produced solely in the prehistoric village of Palea was found in Lithos, the purportedly “Palean baskets” are not uniquely Palean. To further support this argument, he/she emphasizes that as Palea and Lithos are divided by the broad and deep Brim River, the only means of transportation between them is by boat. Since boats have not been found in Palea thus far, the basket could not have been transported across the river. Although the presence of an alleged Palean basket in Lithos may indeed suggest that Lithos also produced similar baskets, more evidence is needed to help us evaluate the author’s conclusion. Close scrutiny reveals several key conclusion in his/her argument that lack critical support.

Firstly, evidence revealing Brim River’s geologic past is critically needed to assist the evaluation of the author’s assertion that the Brim River has always been deep and broad and could only have been crossed by boat. Thus far, this assertion does not receive any support and could possibly be wrong, since Earth’s geologic features could have changed over thousands of years. A long and continuous record of river sediments may help us determine the Brim River’s history. If it shows the Brim River was indeed broad and inaccessible when civilizations in Palea and Lithos first developed and thrived, the author’s argument will be undoubtedly strengthened. If, however, it turns out that the Brim River was a shallow creek or even did not come to existence at all when humans first settled in this region, then we must reject the assertion that Palean baskets could only have reached Lithos by boat.

Secondly, even if we acknowledge for now that the Brim River has always been broad and deep since the human settlement in Lithos and Palea, more evidence is needed to help us evaluate whether boats were unavailable in the entire region. The author mentions that no boats were found in Palea, but gives no information regarding boats in other villages. If new discoveries indicate that Lithos villagers possessed boats, the transportation of Palean baskets by boat was possible and the Palean basket found in Lithos could indeed have been transported in this way. On the contrary, new evidence revealing an absence of boats in the entire Brim River vicinity during this time would help support the conclusion that the so-called Palean baskets are not unique to Palea.

Finally, granted that no boat was available to cross the Brim River, we must consider the possibility that the baskets could have been transported indirectly on land from Palea to Lithos. Yet, based on current information offered by the author it is challenging to evaluate the likelihood of such a scenario. If additional evidence emerges suggesting that trade was prevalent in this region and that both Lithos and Palea were actively engaged in trade, the author’s argument will be weakened, since the baskets could have been merchandise that made its way from Palea to Lithos via a large trade network. On the other hand, if we have evidence such as local chronicles indicates Palea and/or Lithos societies were relatively isolated and had limited interaction with nearby prehistoric villages, then it is unlikely that Palean baskets could have arrived in Lithos. In this case, the author’s conclusion is strengthened.

To summarize, the evidence which the author quotes does not provide conclusive information about the origin of the basket found in Lithos. As a consequence, we need additional information to better evaluate of the author’s claim.

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