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 Luke Haqq
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Complete Question Explanation

Assumption. The correct answer is (E).

The author of this stimulus begins by introducing a discovery as well as the discoverer's interpretation of that discovery. The discoverer concludes that the place must be Troy. The author of the stimulus disagrees with that conclusion ("But that belief cannot be correct"). The author reasons that the city couldn't be Troy because the Iliad conveys that Trojan War lasted ten years, and a city as small as the one discovered could not have withstood a siege lasting ten years.

But what if what the Iliad conveys isn't necessarily true? If that were the case, then perhaps the war didn't actually last ten years. Maybe it was less than that, in which case perhaps the discovered city could have lasted through that shorter siege.

Answer choice (A): Since this is an assumption question, we can test each question using the Assumption Negation technique. Negated, (A) would be "In 1893, scholars knew of [some] other ancient city that could have been Troy." This wouldn't make the argument fall apart. The argument is that Dörpfeld is incorrect that the city he discovered is Troy. Even if scholars knew of some other cities discovered that could have been Troy, that doesn't undercut the conclusion that Dörpfeld is incorrect in his claim.

Answer choice (B): Negated, this would be "The Iliad does provide clues about the specific location of Troy." If that were true, if anything, it would strengthen the argument is that Dörpfeld is incorrect. It would affirm the validity of a source the author uses.

Answer choice (C): Negating this yields, "Dörpfeld’s team found [some] evidence in the city they excavated that a siege had occurred there." In the end, this doesn't seem to strengthen or weaken the conclusion that Dörpfeld is incorrect. Even if a siege occurred, the author makes a more specific assertion that it's the -length- of the siege that tells us that the discovered city couldn't be Troy.

Answer choice (D): A negation of (D) would be "The city excavated by Dörpfeld’s team [did not have] many features that scholars of the time believed Troy had." This might strengthen the conclusion that Dörpfeld is incorrect, because it would be further evidence that the city is not Troy.

Answer choice (E): This is the correct answer choice. Negated, (E) would be "The Iliad [does not] accurately represent the duration of the Trojan War." If the Iliad didn't necessarily represent the duration accurately, then perhaps the siege of Troy lasted less than ten years. And if that's the case, then the main evidence that the author relies on--that a city of discovered city's size couldn't have withstood a ten-year siege--is no longer especially useful for determining whether or not Dörpfeld is incorrect in believing the city to be Troy.
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Please post below with any questions!
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I chose C...I thought if there is no evidence, then it does not represent the period.
Why is C wrong and E correct?

Thank you
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 Jonathan Evans
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Hi, Mok,

This question asks you to identify an assumption necessary for the argument to be valid. In other words, you must identify some unstated belief implicit in the argument that is required for the conclusion to make any sense. The key word in the question stem is "required." Which among the answer choices is "required" for the conclusion to be valid?

When you start by working the stimulus, identify the conclusion:
The Dörpfeld excavation did not uncover the remains of ancient Troy.
Next find the facts supporting this conclusion:
The city uncovered was too small to have withstood a ten-year siege.

In the ancient epic The Iliad, Troy is subjected to a ten-year siege.
Now, ask yourself why you might disagree with the conclusion. How is it possible that the city that was found could have been ancient Troy even though the city was clearly too small to have been subjected to the siege depicted in the poem?

Your job is to illustrate an alternate scenario consistent with the facts. In this case, you might come up with the idea, "What if the story is not completely accurate?"

What you do here is identify the gap in the reasoning, a problem that illustrates that even though you have some support for the author's conclusion, it is still possible to arrive at alternate outcomes.

Now consider the question stem:

What is an assumption (missing, implicit premise) required by the argument?

What must the author believe at a minimum for his conclusion to be valid? Go back to your observation: What if the story is not true?

Now connect your observation to the question stem task to come up with a prephrase:

At a minimum the author must believe the events related in The Iliad represent a somewhat accurate description of actual history.

With this prephrase you arrive at answer choice E. Imagine that E were not true, The Iliad does not accurately represent the duration of the Trojan War. In this case, the conclusion of the argument makes no sense. This truth of this information is clearly required for the argument to be valid.

Now consider your answer, C: Is it really necessary that Dörpfeld's team found no evidence that a siege had occurred in the city they found? No. Even if this team had found such evidence, the city in question still might not have been ancient Troy. It could have been some other besieged city.

I hope this explanation helps.
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When doing this problem I identified the conclusion as" But that belief cannot be true". I continued on with the argument thinking that, the belief that could not be true was that the city was troy which was described in the Iliad. My prephrase for the answers was, the correct answer will contain a lack of connection between Troy and the Iliad . Which is why I chose answer choice B.

I still don't understand why answer choice E is the correct answer.
 Adam Tyson
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You started off great here, Bruin96, in correctly identifying the conclusion, that "that belief cannot be correct." But where you went wrong is in identifying what "that belief" is. What did Dörpfeld believe? He believed that the city he found was the city of Troy. It's not about believing that the Iliad described Troy - that's presented as a fact, not as a belief.

Why does the author believe that Dörpfeld is wrong, and this is NOT Troy? Because the facts on the ground don't match what we know from the Iliad. What, then, must he assume to be true? That the information in the Iliad is accurate!

Try the negation technique on these answer choices. First, negate answer B. What if the Iliad DOES provide specific clues about Troy's location? Does that ruin his argument that this ancient city cannot be Troy? Nope - it's still too small, darn it! His evidence remains fairly convincing, despite answer B being false. That proves that B was NOT a required assumption of the argument. It didn't have to be true for the author to be correct in his reasoning.

Now try negating answer E. What if the Iliad DOES NOT accurately represent the duration of the Trojan War? That means the only real evidence the author relied on is bad evidence, and therefore the logical force of his argument is pretty much nil. His argument rests on false info, and falls apart. He might still be right, but there's no longer any reason to believe that he is. That is the impact we want to see when we negate the correct answer! If a required assumption turns out to be false, the argument should be wrecked.

Be sure you are correctly identifying what the author is trying to prove. Then carefully identify what evidence he offered to support that claim. Then, finally, determine what's missing that the argument requires in order to make sense. That's your prephrase for an assumption.
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Thank you Adam, that makes so much more sense!

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