Motel of the Mysteries
by David Macaulay is a lavishly illustrated book about Howard Carson, a future archaeologist who stumbles upon an extraordinarily well-preserved ancient tomb — or so he thinks. Actually, it's a 20th-century hotel room.
Tropes featured include:
- All Hail the Great God Mickey!: Items recovered include the Great Altar (the television) and the Sacred Urn (the toilet); the general assumption of all the future archaeologists is that everything they find is religiously significant.
- Ancient Astronauts: Parodied. The book's discussion of freeways could be taken, practically word-for-word, from a present-day von Dänikenite's description of the Nazca lines.
- Apocalypse How: The complete burial of North America in junk mail, ranking somewhere between Class 0 and Class 1.
- Curse: Mirroring the legends of cursed Egyptian tombs, everyone who excavates the Motel dies in some strange way. Carson himself is killed by a rabid dromedary.
- Entertainingly Wrong: Most of the deductions in the book have some logic behind them. That doesn't mean they're right...
- Future Imperfect: The entire book runs on this. Most of its humor comes from the contrast between the awestruck tone of the text and the highly mundane illustrations which make it clear just how skewed a view of the 20th century the future archaeologists have.
- The Merch: In-universe. The last few pages describe the gift shop items sold by the museum in conjunction with the Motel exhibit. They include a graffiti-covered section of bathroom wall (available in alabaster or 24-carat gold), a crystal paperweight containing a reproduction of the artificial plant from the hotel corridor, and so on.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Heinrich von Hooligan (Erich von Daniken); Howard Carlson (Howard Carter).
- Toilet Humor: The deadpan descriptions of various bathroom items sometimes verge on this.