Under the channels of the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes on the California shoreline was discovered a 300-pound sphinx that was under the sand for years. However this impeccably kept gem, dug out at the beginning of November by archaeologists, is not a missing miracle from an ancient culture. Actually it originates from the 1920ies and is a film prop from of Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments. This movie, was one of the most expensive ones in that period, kept Paramount profits record for 25 years, and even incited a record in Bible sales.
A significant part of the million-dollar budget, or what now would be about 31 million dollar, was spent on the building a grand, luxurious Egyptian set. On the Californian coast, gigantic temple doors reached more than 120 feet, guarded by twenty-one sphinxes and epic sculptures of Ramesses II. But similar to the famous Library of Alexandria, it was demolished. But this did not actually happen.
DeMille’s 1959 wrote in his autobiography that he hopes that if archaeologists excavate under the dunes of Guadalupe, they will not hurry to publish that they have discovered that Egyptian civilization, spread all the way to the Pacific Ocean of North America. Too expensive to transport and too important to permit to be stolen by film competitors, the 800-foot-wide set was buried. By now, just a small part has been uncovered.
This most recent find is not at all like anything found in earlier excavations, Doug Jenzen, official chief of the Dunes Center, said in an announcement. The sphinx’s intense colors were preserved by the sand which shows us that things in black and white movies s were painted in very bright colors. Previous digs have delivered other remnants from the production, like garbage of set life, for example, Prohibition-period bottles and tobacco tins, or one more sphinx, crumbled, that was uncovered in 2014. Archeologists from Allied Earthworks oriented themselves from the original film in their excavations.
These amazing artifacts are usually made of plaster, protected by the natural seepage of the sand. For each single digging a separate excavation license is necessary, with the total expenses per project reaching $135,000. It was extremely expensive to construct the “Lost City of DeMille”, however it seems that it is as costly to return it.