Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Motel of the Mysteries Paperback – October 11, 1979
See the Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
The Motel of the Mysteries is a wonderful send up of the fields of archaeology and history. It's aim is doubtless to entertain, at which it's vastly successful, but over and above that the book makes quite clear what archaeology legitimately can and cannot do. I think it also points out that what is taken as "The Reality" of the past is often as much a function of current cultural biases and of the personal motives of individual researchers as it is of what actually occurred in the past. (This was made quite clear to me when I saw Knossos on Crete for the first time and realized that a great deal of imagination had gone into the reconstruction of the "Minoan" buildings there).
My favorite parts of Motel were Archaeologist Carson's interpretation of the hotel bathroom as the inner sanctum of a religious structure and the subsequent depiction of his assistant--ala Heinrich Schliemann with the Trojan treasure and Leonard Wooley with the Ur III treasure--wearing bathroom accoutrements as religious paraphernalia.
The author also pokes fun at museums and at all of us, when he includes a collection of "Souvenirs and Quality Reproductions" available for sale at the end of the book. My favorite is the coffee set based on the "sacred urn" (toilet). Goodness knows I've purchased my fair share of quality reproductions on my travels throughout the world!
This should be suggested reading for every college history and archeology major and required for those seeking degrees over BA in these fields!
I think that this is a book that every archaeologist / historian should read because it perfectly explains the traps that we may fall into when trying to explain the past using present day knowledge and sensibilities.
The events portrayed in this book show the reader just how easy it is to make a mistake ... even when one's best intentions are at stake.
Then again, it is a David Macaulay (always great) and it is funny! Especially the Museum Gift Store items displayed at the end of the book.
Motel is about an historical dig in the distant future. In the year 4022, all the North American continent has been buried under billions of tons of debris from a combined postal error and bad luck which occured in 1985.
Howard Carson, an amateur archaeologist, is running in a marathon, when he crosses the site of an old dig from years past. He falls into an undiscovered, underground room with a door on one side. Finding a DO NOT DISTURB sign on the door, he realizes he has discovered an ancient tomb of the inhabitants of the nation that once existed there.
Gathering a small team of archaeologists and assistants, including his wife, Carson sets to work on the site to uncover the secrets of Usa. After three years of excavation, the site is uncovered fully and Carson begins to understand some of the strange burial practices of the citizens of Usa. Once the work is complete, Carson's findings, including the Sacred Urn and Music Box (a toilet) are displayed in a special Yank museum.
Motel of the Mysteries is a short book, but within its cover lies spellbinding material. With wit, brains, and spectacular illustrations, David Macaulay relates an undeniably witty story of a camel-hump scientist and his fall into the history books.
In MOTEL OF THE MYSTERIES, we get a marvelous story of a future archeologist finding, and completely misunderstanding, an ordinary motel room.
Great fun, and you'll never watch a Discover Channel special with quite that credulity again.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I first read this as a child ever since, I've always been just a tad skeptical of archaeology. I try to respect the science and the research, but there is always a part of me... Read morePublished 3 days ago by Henry
A wonderful new way to see archaeology and our own world. Want a change of perspective? This is a fun, short book with engaging illustrations and ironic comedy.Published 5 days ago by Sam L
Love this book... great parody of modern archeology...
great and fun read....
I love this book. It is out of print and increasingly more difficult to find which is why I wasn't terribly upset when one or two pages were detached and loose in the book. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
It was exactly as advertised. I have been looking for this book for a very long time. Glad to get it.Published 2 months ago by wilma estes
Funny and true! I think of this marvelous book every time I hear an archeologist explain ancient sites in modern terms.Published 3 months ago by Terryl Paiste
Fun twist! used in High School lit class to inspire writers Middle school to challenge what they know vs what they think they know.... Read morePublished 3 months ago by fraiser
I loved this book as a kid and was looking forward to sharing it with my kids. Unfortunately, I think it's a little dated and so the "joke" did not resonate as well. Read morePublished 3 months ago by DC area shopper
Such a shame this book isn't more widely circulated. Our library system no longer carried it, as it is out of print. Such a classic! Read morePublished 4 months ago by Amazon Customer