‘Ten Commandments’ Sphinx Unearthed After 91 Years

Ten Commandments Sphinx
Topical Press Agency/Hulton Archive

Archaeologists have rediscovered a 15-foot-tall, 91-year-old giant sphinx used as a prop in “The Ten Commandments” hidden in the sand dunes of Guadalupe, Calif., Live Science reports.

The plaster sphinx was one of 21 featured prominently in Cecil B. DeMille’s 1923 epic. The legendary director remade the silent film in 1956, starring Charlton Heston as Moses.

The unearthed sphinx, which lined the path to Pharaoh’s City in the movie, will be put on display at the Dunes Center in mid to late 2015 once it’s reconstructed following almost a century of weather damage.

“[The film] was one of the largest movie sets ever made because they didn’t have special effects,” Doug Jenzen, the executive director of the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Center, told Live Science. “So anything that they wanted to look large, they had to build large.”

Jenzen said the facade to Pharaoh’s City was an estimated 12 stories tall and 720 feet wide. “The Ten Commandments” film crew built the body parts for the sphinxes in Los Angeles then transported them roughly 165 miles to Guadalupe, Jenzen said, where they were assembled into hollow statues.

Despite urban legend that the movie crew blew up the set and buried the sphinxes in a trench once filming wrapped, Jenzen found that the set likely collapsed and was buried in the dunes due to rain and sand exposure.

The first excavation of the movie site took place in the 1990s. Archaeologists found the head of a sphinx buried in the dunes during another dig in 2012. The team returned to unearth the body last week, but found another one instead, which took eight days to remove.

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  1. Kelly says:

    They didn’t have special effects? This guy knows nothing about silent film. I guess the scene where the Red Sea parts must have been real, too.

  2. PETER JAY says:

    The Los Angeles entertainment industry is not good at saving, preserving anything! Even when it could bring in some money.

  3. Helena Candarelia says:

    Wow! Conveniently just in time before EXODUS!

  4. John Shea says:

    Egyptology isn’t what it used to be…

  5. Mjkbk says:

    The “blown up and buried in a trench” legend is new one on me.

    When I took a film course in the early 70s, it seemed to be common knowledge that much of that set had been left as-is. Why was an “archaeologist” needed to dig up what had been known about, yet totally ignored, for nearly 100 years?

    THEN it was “just showbiz”. NOW it’s “science”?

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