Jan Simek, distinguished professor of anthropology, has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Each year, the AAAS Council elects Fellows whose efforts on behalf of the advancement of science or its applications are scientifically or socially distinguished.
Simek was recognized for his distinguished contributions to the field of prehistoric archaeology, especially for his work on European Neanderthals and the discovery of North American prehistoric cave art. Simek is president emeritus of the UT system and also served as interim chancellor for the Knoxville campus.
Simek’s most recent work was published in the June 2013 issue of the scholarly journal Antiquity. It finds that some of the oldest and most widespread prehistoric cave and rock art in the United States has been found in and around Tennessee. The art provides intriguing clues about what life was like for Native American societies beginning more than 6,000 years ago. The discoveries reveal that prehistoric peoples in the Cumberland Plateau used this distinctive upland environment for a variety of purposes and that religion was part of that broader sense of place.