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 majority of it is preserved by sand with the original paint still intact.
“This is significant and shows that we’re still learning unexpected facets to film historical movie production such as the fact that objects in black and white films were actually painted extremely intense colors.”
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.
Legend has it that after filming, the set was too expensive to move and too valuable to leave for rival film-makers to poach so DeMille had it buried.
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.
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