Home / Entertainment / Sphinx from 90-year-old movie set unearthed in California

Sphinx from 90-year-old movie set unearthed in California

GUADALUPE, Calif. — Archaeologists working in sand dunes on the central California coast have dug up an intact plaster sphinx that was part of an Egyptian movie set built more than 90 years ago for Cecil B. DeMille’s epic “The Ten Commandments.”

The 300-pound sphinx is the second recovered from the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes. 

Dunes Center Executive Director Doug Jenzen tells Santa Barbara news station KEYT-TV that it’s unlike other items found on previous digs because most of it is preserved with the original paint intact.

Archaeologists working in sand dunes on the central California coast have dug up an intact plaster sphinx that was part of an Egyptian movie set built more than 90 years ago for filming of Cecil B. DeMille's 1923 epic "The Ten Commandments." (Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Center via AP)

Archaeologists working in sand dunes on the central California coast have dug up an intact plaster sphinx that was part of an Egyptian movie set built more than 90 years ago for filming of Cecil B. DeMille’s 1923 epic “The Ten Commandments.” (Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Center via AP)

DeMille commissioned Paul Iribe, often hailed as the father of art deco, to create the lavish set for the 1923 movie, which included more than 20 sphinxes.

Because the massive backdrop was too expensive to break down, DeMille ordered everything buried in the dunes 175 miles northwest of Los Angeles when filming wrapped.

The 300-pound sphinx is the second recovered from the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes.

The 300-pound sphinx is the second recovered from the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes.

Director Peter Brosnan in the mid 80s began hunting for the bones of the 12-story set and in 1990 received a $ 10,000 archaeology grant to fund his efforts. He discovered the first sphinx buried beneath the sand shortly after.

“The Ten Commandments” when adjusting for inflation is one of the highest grossing movies of all time. The film’s budget also set records, with DeMille reportedly spending $ 13.2 million on the thousands of featured actors and actresses as wells as on the elaborate set.

They lay undisturbed for decades before recovery efforts began. The newly recovered sphinx is expected to go on display at the dunes museum next summer.

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