Giant Sphinx Head Discovery In California Desert . . . Calling Mr. DeMille

TenCommandments-bigposter-1923The 300-pound head of a sphinx has been discovered in dunes in the California central coast traces. Before you rush to re-read your Egyptian history, this sphinx is the work of that great Pharaoh Cecil B. DeMille. It turns out that after filming the silent movie “The Ten Commandments” in 1923, DeMille just left parts of the huge set to be claimed the desert. It is not a Hollywood archeological site.

The site is located near the town of Guadalupe, eight miles northwest of Santa Maria the head is some 6 feet tall and 300 pounds.

I love this story.  The construction by DeMille resembled the Egyptian original in its grand size with 1,300 people and 3,000 animals to construct a set including a 12-story, 720-foot backdrop complete with 21 plaster sphinxes.  The area was dubbed the Lost City of DeMille and its “relics” are now on display.  

Unlike that Egyptian knock off, the DeMille version has been recorded in film:


13 thoughts on “Giant Sphinx Head Discovery In California Desert . . . Calling Mr. DeMille”

  1. Some additional history for you….After TTC was filmed, Mr. Demille choose to cover the set with sand because he did not want other movie studios to use them for their motion pictures. It was less expensive than demolishing them and carting away the waste. When the shifting sands began to reveal the relics left behind, Mr. Brosnan stepped up his efforts to begin his archaeological excavation. In the mid 90’s Mr. Brosnan held an event at the Guadalupe theater where an original 16mm copy of TTC was screened by a collector who agreed to show it for the first time in decades (he wasn’t sure the celluloid would hold up but it did). Following the screening there was an interview with the last remaining actor who was part of the original cast. He talked about the sight of hundreds of actors and movie personnel wrangling thousands of animals for some of the most panoramic shots. Truly something to behold. Now, what was once lost has been found.

  2. I live in the area of the Dunes and I was present at the Gala where they unveiled this Sphinx head to the public last Saturday night. It is an amazing sight. Peter Brosnan devoted 30 years of his life to finding and preserving this Sphinx for all of us to see. I think that his quest is one of the most fascinating parts of this story and every news article I have seen about this amazing find never even mentions his name. Please watch the documentary he made, ” The Lost City of Cecil B.DeMille” to learn more about him and how this discovery came about. I think he deserves recognition in these articles. His part of the story is as fascinating as the Cecil B.DeMille part of the story.

    1. Marjorie Goebel – thank you for mentioning his name and the name of the documentary. I will put it on my wish list. 🙂

  3. I cannot imagine the excitement and awe the audiences in 1923 must have experienced. No wonder DeMille was a larger than life legend in the 20th c.

  4. It never rains in California. Girl let me warn you. When it pours. Then it pours.

  5. There are still numerous mansions in Hollywood from the silent move era; most of which were built on hills north of Franklin Avenue. As a resident of the area, I often stroll the winding streets on which these homes are perched.

    Many of these houses are flamboyantly absurd. One imagines the designers were using psychedelic drugs long before the hippie era. There are roofs with wild slopes and towers whose only purpose is to make tall focal points.

    Most of these mansions are nearing their centennials. Yet they’re still expensive properties and generally well-preserved. However I wouldn’t fancy being home alone in these mansions. They must have strange energy from the odd configurations.

    1. When purchased by a bigwig Middle Easterner, with all that oil, a mansion was turned into the ugliest thing in Hollywood. I don’t know how many statues there are, but they painted them the most grotesque colors. And worst they were anatomically correct! It took years and many lawyers, to get the male privates taken off (which were red). It’s still pretty gaudy.

      1. The mansion you’re talking about was in Beverly Hills. And ‘yes’, it had grotesque statues that drove the neighbors mad. That house, however, happened to burn down 20 years ago! Arson was suspected, of course. But I’m not sure if it was ever proven.

  6. I would disagree. It is a Hollywood archaeology site. I am sure if they sent a team from WSU they would find a lot more stuff. I only suggest WSU because the dry heat would be good for them.

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