Let's break down the question first and then turn to the passage:
Which of the following, if true, would most clearly undermine the author’s statement in the last sentence of the passage (lines 38-43) regarding the distribution of wealth in Western Pueblo settlements?
The question is asking us to look at a specific claim made by the author. We need to undermine this claim made in the last sentence. The author thinks that the pueblo society had an unequal distribution of wealth. So let's go look at the sentence to learn more:
Evidence for differential distribution of wealth is found in burials of the period: some include large quantities of pottery, jewelry, and other artifacts, whereas others from the same sites lack any such materials.
We can see that the author's idea is based on burial places. Some people were buried with a lot of stuff and some people weren't. The author thinks that the stuff buried with the person belonged to that person. We need to find a piece of evidence that either shows that the stuff was not their personal possession, or some other reason that some people were buried with stuff and some people were not.
Let's take a look at the answer choices:
A. Only community members of exceptional wealth are likely to have been buried with their personal possessions.
B. Members of communities with extensive agricultural systems are usually buried without personal possessions.
C. Most artifacts found in burial sites were manufactured locally rather than imported from other communities.
D. Burial artifacts are often ritual objects associated with religious practices rather than being the deceased’s personal possessions.
E. The quality of burial artifacts varies depending on the site with which they are associated.
Only one answer choice gives us what we are looking for.
Answer choice A supports the author's idea so we can eliminate it.
Answer choice B is a close runner up because it provides evidence of a wealthy person who is not buried with stuff. Answer choice B only gives us a reason to doubt that a wealthy person wasn't buried with their stuff. It does not undermine the idea that there was a distribution of wealth in the society. It does not undermine the author's statement as well as another answer choice.
Answer choice C is completely unrelated. We are not concerned with where things were made. The author's theory has nothing to do with the location of origin for these objects.
Answer choice D is pretty good at undermining the author's point. It provides evidence that the objects that people were buried with were not their own. If it isn't their stuff then it becomes very difficult to support the idea that their was a distribution of wealth in these societies. The author would have to look elsewhere to support this idea.
Answer choice E is all about the quality of the objects. Like answer choice C, this has no bearing on the author's point and does nothing to undermine the argument. The quality of the objects is not under discussion.
I hope this helps. Let me know if I can be more clear!
Magoosh Test Prep