GRE Argument Essay 139
The following appeared in an article from a popular newsmagazine.
“In 1888 a stone was unearthed in northern Wisconsin with an inscription in an old Scandinavian alphabet and bearing the date 1362. Scandinavians were not, however, exploring or emigrating to northern Wisconsin in the fourteenth century. Recent analysis proves, in fact, that the stone had been buried in the spot where it was found for no more than 100 years. Moreover, the community near the discovery site was home to a group of people who had formed a club to study medieval Scandinavian culture – a period that includes the fourteenth century. The stone, therefore, is not a genuine artifact of medieval Scandinavian culture inscribed in the fourteenth century but most likely a hoax perpetrated by the group.”
The writer of the article gives an account of a stone, with Scandinavian alphabet and dated 1364, which had been unearthed in northern Wisconsin. According to the writer, this stone does not belong to the Scandinavian culture but is a hoax belonging to a club that studied the medieval Scandinavian culture near the discovery site. He supports his argument by saying that Scandinavians were not exploring northern Wisconsin in the fourteenth century. Moreover, it has been found that the stone had not been buried for more than 100 years. The argument seems to be agreeable at the first glance, but it contains certain flaws due to which it can be criticized for being unconvincing.
The writer believes that Scandinavians could not have brought the stone since they were neither exploring northern Wisconsin nor immigrating to the place in the fourteenth century. However, this does not confirm that it did not belong to the medieval Scandinavian culture. While it could be true that the Scandinavians did not bring it, it could have been brought by some other sources. For example, people from northern Wisconsin could have traveled to Scandinavia and brought it with them as a remembrance of the place. It is also possible that some traveler was gifted the stone and he carried it to this place. The stone could have attracted the interest of some visitors to the place who took it along in order to study the script on it. Therefore, even if the stone was not brought by Scandinavians, these possible sources cannot be ignored.
If the stone was found to be buried for not more that 100 years, it does not indicate towards only one conclusion as inferred in the argument. It is possible that the stone was not buried for a long time since it was being carried to different places for a long time. It could also have been carried from one generation to another and thus buried much later. Therefore, even if was not buried at the time of the Scandinavians, it is possible that the stone belonged to that era.
There is no evidence provided by the writer of the article that indicates that the stone is not a genuine artifact of the medieval Scandinavian culture. As discussed above, the fact that it was not brought by Scandinavians or was not buried for more than 100 years ago do not prove that it was not original relic of Scandinavians. There is no proof of the fact that it was a hoax made by the club studying the medieval Scandinavian culture. The only thing that relates the stone to the study is that it was found at the site which was a home to this club and that the club was studying the Scandinavians. However, if they attempted to make any replicas of the original stones, or if they were actually studying an original stone cannot be confirmed from the given argument. It is likely that since they were studying fourteenth century medieval culture, they were studying an original relic and were trying to decipher the script written on it.
Therefore, there are many other interpretations of the facts given in the argument. It might not lead to the only conclusions as mentioned in the argument, but may direct to another direction as well. Therefore, the conclusion drawn in the argument that the stone is not an original is contradictory since the argument fails to convince the reader for the same.