Giant Sphinx from ‘Ten Commandments’ Film Unearthed 91 Years Later


Archaeologists unearth one of the giant sphinxes from the film, "The Ten Commandments."
Archaeologists unearth one of the giant sphinxes from the film, “The Ten Commandments.”

Hidden for more than 90 years beneath the rolling sand dunes of Guadalupe, California, an enormous, plaster sphinx from the 1923 blockbuster movie “The Ten Commandments” has been rediscovered and is now above ground. 

The public will be able to see the sphinx on display as early as next year, once it has been reconstructed — a necessity since it became weather-beaten during its stint beneath the sand, said Doug Jenzen, the executive director of the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Center, who oversaw the recent excavation.

The roughly 15-foot-tall (4.6 meters) sphinx is one of 21 that lined the path to Pharaoh’s City in the 1923 silent hit, directed by Cecil B. DeMille. He later remade the film, with Charlton Heston as Moses, in 1956. [See Photos of the Film’s Giant Spinxes & Excavation]

“[The 1923 film] was one of the largest movie sets ever made, because they didn’t have special effects,” Jenzen told Live Science. “So anything that they wanted to look large, they had to build large.” The facade to Pharaoh’s City stood an estimated 12 stories tall and about 720 feet (219 meters) across. “It’s giant,” Jenzen said.

The film crew originally built the sphinxes’ body parts in Los Angeles, and transported them about 165 miles (266 kilometers) to Guadalupe, where they assembled them into giant, hollow statues. The crew even built an extra sphinx so that the actors playing slaves could drag it around during filming, Jenzen said.

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Source: Live Science | Laura Geggel

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