Motel of the Mysteries by David Macaulay

>I read a number of book related websites to stay up-to-date on what’s being published and what is available at MPL. I recently read about Motel of the Mysteries by David Macaulay on one of those websites as an old favorite of a fellow librarian and decided to pick it up.

The year is 4022. The ancient civilization of Usa was buried under mounds of detritus in the year 1985. Amateur archeologist Howard Carson makes the discovery of a lifetime when he inadvertently falls into a tomb buried under the detritus. The tomb is undisturbed, still bearing its sacred DO NOT DISTURB sign hanging from the doorknob. What follows is an exhaustive catalog of the contents of the tomb and Carson and his team’s explanations of the use and ceremonial significance of each item in the burial chamber. From the description of the altar atop which stands a device for communicating with the gods, to the Inner Chamber containing a porcelain sarcophagus, Carson’s findings are entertaining and cast a delightful satirical light on many aspects of American culture.

Motel of the Mysteries is not only an interesting speculation about how future generations will interpret the potential remains of current culture, but is a sometimes amusing look back at the technology and furnishings of the 1980s. For example, of the television, Macaulay writes “Judging by the impact marks on the top and sides of the upper altar, some aspect of this communication was dependent upon pounding the surface.”