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KNOXVILLE — Kandi Hollenbach, a research assistant professor in the University of Tennessee’s Archaeological Research Laboratory, believes cave people were not that different from the rest of us.

She plans to present her discussion, “Making a Living in the American Southeast 10,000 Years Ago,” at the weekly UT Science Forum, at noon this Friday, Nov. 9, in Thompson-Boling Arena Dining Room C-D on the UT campus.

According to Hollenbach, cave people living in this area were capable of making sophisticated decisions and were just as smart as modern humans — it just happens that they were using stone tools while we use computers.

“They used the same thought-process and were just as intelligent,” Hollenbach said.

She said she hopes to diminish the preconceived notion that cave dwellers were not smart by today’s standards by showing how everyone in the cave community would work together toward a common goal. She plans to use the case and research of four rock shelters in northwest Alabama, including Dust Cave, during her presentation.

Hollenbach said that while the men were hunting and putting themselves at risk, the women, children and elderly were still able to make major contributions as gatherers of reliable food sources like plants.

Hollenbach became interested in studying the ancient residents of the American Southeast during field school at Dust Cave. She found the experience interesting because her team found evidence of both the hunter and gatherer traits in the cave.

The UT Science Forum is a weekly discussion that is free and open to the public. Different science topics will be discussed with a question-and-answer session at the end of each 40-minute presentation. Guests are welcome to bring or purchase a lunch and eat during the talk. For more information, contact Mark Littmann, forum organizer, at or 974-8156.

Upcoming Science Forum topics include the following:

• “Tracking the Movements of Ancient Humans by DNA,” Nov. 16, by Dr. Graciela Cabana, Assistant Professor of Anthropology.
• “A Nod to Tennessee’s Best: The Tennessee Governor’s Academy for Mathematics and Science,” Nov. 30, by Dr. Vena Long, Executive Director, Tennessee Governor’s Academy for Mathematics & Science.


Dr. Kandi Hollenbach, research assistant professor, Archaeological Research Laboratory, (865-974-9647,

Jay Mayfield, media relations, (865-974-9409,

Mark Littmann, forum organizer, (865-974-8156,