Lean-tos were America’s first motels – short-lived structures of pole and brush that served as temporary resting places for indigenous travelers. Like villages, actual physical evidence of lean-tos is difficult to obtain in Connecticut. Unlike wigwams and longhouses, lean-tos were not meant to be permanent structures, so there are no decaying poles to produce soil discolorations in the form of post molds. However, archaeologists can still find evidence of the existence of lean-tos through the presence of other cultural remains left behind by people who used the lean-to. Remnants of burning on rock faces and a nearby hearth, with possible animal bones or burnt seeds, for example, can lead to the deduction that someone built and used a temporary shelter at that location. If stone flakes are found in such a locality, perhaps someone was creating and altering their tools while resting on a hunting trip. Many rock faces that were used for lean-tos show little signs of change from natural forces such as storms. Archaeologists have found evidence of layered fires and habitation activity at some sites, indicating that various peoples occupied each lean-to site multiple times- sometimes over thousands of years!
May 30, 2020 / Research IAIS Museum
Written by:Research IAIS Museum