It’s always exciting when archeologists uncover a forgotten bit of history—and when relics are found in unexpected places, it definitely adds an extra layer of buzz to the discovery. So when a sphinx was unearthed in California recently, it really was quite the noteworthy event.
Of course, this sphinx wasn’t of the ancient variety that you’d find in Egypt. But it still has quite a backstory.
How Did A Sphinx End Up In California?!
As it turns out, the sphinx was actually a prop from a movie set that’s now nearly a century old.
The 300-pound sphinx was one of 21 sphinxes used in the silent movie “The Ten Commandments,” which was filmed in 1923. For the film—a theatrical version of Moses’ biblical story—producer Cecil B. DeMille had a great number of props built, including sphinxes, pharaohs and massive temple gates.
Why Was It Buried In A Sand Dune?
After filming wrapped, the props were then taken out to the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes in central California, located about 175 175 miles away from Los Angeles, and buried. Many people believe DeMille got rid of the props in such an dramatic manner so they couldn’t be reused by rival filmmakers.
In the KEYT video below, an archeologist on the dig walks Facebook viewers through the finding:
The sphinx is not the first relic found since excavations began at the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes. Smaller items like prohibition-era liquor bottles, makeup and tobacco tins believed to have belonged to the cast and crew of “The Ten Commandments” were previously uncovered. But the discovery of the sphinx is definitely unique, according to Doug Jenzen, executive director of the Dunes Center.
“The piece is unlike anything found on previous digs,” Jenzen told KEYT. “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.”
Who knew that the excavation of a sphinx in a desert could lead to the discovery of interesting film facts?
If you’re interested in learning more, keep an eye on the Dunes Center, where the unearthed sphinx will be going on display as early as summer 2018. And in preparation for your visit, maybe give “The Ten Commandments” a watch!
The Great Sphinx Of Giza
In case you’re wondering if the Great Sphinx would have actually been around when Moses was—it is possible.
While the Great Sphinx’s date of creation is up for debate, the most commonly held belief is that it was built somewhere around 2500 B.C.
As for Moses, experts’ best guesses put him being born anywhere between 1400 B.C. and 1200 B.C.