‘Ten Commandments’ sphinx rises from Guadalupe dunes
October 23, 2014
The body of a sphinx has risen from beneath the sand at the Guadalupe Dunes nearly 100 years after it served as part of the set in Cecil B. Demille’s classic film, “The Ten Commandments.” [LA Times]
In preparation for the 1923 film, crew members built the sphinxes in Los Angeles and transported them piece by piece to Guadalupe, where they assembled them on set. The mythical creatures have since remained buried in the Guadalupe Dunes.
In 2012, archeologists discovered pieces of the head of one of the sphinxes from the film. They since pieced the head back together at put it on display at the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Center.
Earlier this month, a team of archeologists set out to find the missing body of the sphinx. When they arrived at the dunes, they found that the body had essentially imploded after wind uncovered it and left it vulnerable to the elements.
But, the wind had also unearthed the hind leg and a paw of another sphinx lying about 10 feet away. That sphinx was missing much of its face, but the archeologists managed to uncover its body.
Colleen Hamilton, a San Luis Obispo-based historical archeologist who served as project director, described the excavation as “a once-in-a-lifetime kind of site.”
“I’ve worked on projects all over the country, and I think this one could only happen in California,” said Hamilton, who works with Applied EarthWorks in San Luis Obispo.
The challenge for archeologists is now to preserve the plaster-made sphinx, which is now paper-thin.
A team has covered the pieces of the sphinx in liquid consolidant and wrapped them in cheesecloth. They also removed sand from within the body and filled it with foam.
When the sphinx body is ready for display, it will rest alongside the sphinx head at the dunes center.
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