What is this "future archeology" picture book?
March 31, 2012 2:56 PM   Subscribe

Help me find a funky "speculative archeology" picture book from the mid-nineties in which archeologists discover 20th century items and ponder what they may have been used for.

Circa 1994 I was in the brief possession of a really neat picture book. It was a fictional account of an archeological dig as if performed in the distant future, on the remains of 20th century civilization. I recall it being written from the POV of the archeologist and/or team, providing a record of each item recovered and what they speculated it was used for. All of the items were commonplace, and the interpretations rather whimsical.

The only example I can recall was a toilet, which the book explained was most likely a "sacrificial urn"

I recall very large and detailed hand drawings in black and white. I only had the book for a few days before it was stolen (I'm pretty sure), but to this day I think about it and wonder what it is.

I'm almost positive my mother ordered this book for me through one of those *Insert Name of Publisher* Book Club order forms they used to (still do?) send to schools every quarter.
posted by menialjoy to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Are you thinking of David Macaulay's "Motel of the Mysteries"? That came out in the late 70s or early 80s though.
posted by plastic_animals at 3:02 PM on March 31, 2012 [5 favorites]

Yup. Motel of the Mysteries.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 3:04 PM on March 31, 2012

Definitely Motel of the Mysteries - the toilet seat bit was a required reading in one of my college classes.
posted by Wylla at 3:05 PM on March 31, 2012

Motel of the Mysteries definitely had the toilet. A bunch of David Macaulay's books were reissued in the 1990s to tie in with some TV work he was doing then, so it makes sense it would have been a book club offering even though as a reissue.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:05 PM on March 31, 2012


That is it! Thank you!
posted by menialjoy at 3:28 PM on March 31, 2012

O, wow. This is wonderful stuff, thanks. Are there any more books or sources dealing with the archeological potential of the 20th century?
posted by ouke at 3:43 PM on March 31, 2012

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