Archaeologists uncovered a 300-pound Sphinx head during an excavation of sand dunes, but it’s no Egyptian artifact.
The sphinx head was unearthed in the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes of California. It’s made of plaster, and it was used for the silent film “The Ten Commandments” in 1923.
The film isn’t to be confused with the 1956 movie starring Charlton Heston, though they were both directed by the same man.
Cecil B. DeMille’s movie set, dubbed “The Lost City of DeMille,” was recently uncovered after 95 years, and the Spinx head is one of its props.
The set was too large to move, and DeMille didn’t want rival movie makers taking his props, so he had the whole site buried under the sand dunes.
Nearly a century later, after thirty years of searching, an excavation team has dug up the props of pharaohs, sphinxes, and other huge Egyptian replicas that seem completely out of place in a Californian dig.
The Mirror reports:
The head of a sphinx uncovered from beneath the sand dunes of California has blown the dust off one of the greatest stories of extravagance in Hollywood history.
The perfectly intact 300-pound plaster head was unearthed by archaeologists excavating the set of Cecil B. DeMille’s 95-year-old movie set for The Ten Commandments.
The piece, buried in the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes, is unlike anything found on previous digs, said Doug Jenzen, Executive Director of the Dunes Center.
[…] The story of The Lost City of DeMille dates to 1923, when the legendary director ordered the construction of a lavish Egyptian set including pharaohs, sphinxes, and colossal temple gates, for his silent movie spectacle The Ten Commandments.
Much of the huge set remains undiscovered.
Cecil B. DeMille was well known for his expensive sets. When he remade ‘The Ten Commandments’ in the 50s, its budget was the most expensive in history.
There should be several other sphinx heads buried somewhere under the sand.
Finding the set at all has proven to be a challenge. The quest to find the director’s ruins started in the 1980s.
The 1920s artifacts they’ve found haven’t been passed down through generations, or made their way from one home, to another, to a storage locker somewhere. They’ve remained untouched, just where they were nearly a century ago.
The Mirror continues:
In the 1980s, director Peter Brosnan and a group of young filmmakers set out to find the ruins. Over 30 years later, excavations began, and have since turned up a trove of historical artifacts including an entire sphinx broken into pieces.
Everyday relics prohibition liquor bottles, makeup, and tobacco tins ”have also been found, shedding light on what life was like for the cast and crew in 1923.
Recently, as archeologists worked to excavate the remainder of a sphinx body left from a previous dig, they were shocked to find the beautifully intact 5 x 3 x 8 foot sphinx head hidden beneath the sand.
In all, 21 sphinxes graced the immense movie set, which was designed by Paul Iribe, known as the Father of Art Deco.
It towered 12 stories high and 800 feet wide. Only a fraction of the set has been recovered.
Turning up sphinxes in California must be surreal for the excavators working on the site of “the Lost City of DeMille.”
Talk about an “historic” find!