Master of Arts (MA)
Geography and Anthropology
Jean Baptiste Lang, a divorced tobacco merchant from Belgium, constructed a summer home in Mandeville, Louisiana, in the mid-1850s. The most noteworthy feature of this house (16ST248) is its cave, a semi-subterranean room which he likely used as a wine cellar. The house was continuously occupied for over a century and remained one of few examples on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain of an original Anglo-Creole cottage. There are very few extant examples of caves in Louisiana due to the difficulty in maintaining such structures. The principal research questions addressed were (1) Can the cave be identified in the archaeological record? If it can be identified, what are its architectural details? How was it constructed? What does its construction state about the function of the cave? (2) What was stored in the cave and can this be determined archaeologically? (3) If the feature is subterranean, how well did it function in storing goods? How would did it function during rain or flooding? (4) Can the detached kitchen be located as well as any associated midden? From answering these questions, the cave was interpreted to be a luxurious amenity that was in the houses of those with high social status throughout Louisiana. The excavations at the Lang-Jourdan House suggest they were for the storage of wine and other alcoholic beverages. The consumption of wine in the elite Creole society of New Orleans was an ethnic and cultural link to France. As such, the principal purpose of the cave can be linked to concepts of social prestige and hospitality.
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Chouest, Matthew James, "Caves and Class: Excavations at the Lang-Jourdan House in Mandeville, Louisiana" (2014). LSU Master's Theses. 2105.