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Photos: 1923 Sphinx from Movie Set Found Buried in Sandy Dune

Buried treasure

1923 movie sphinx photos

(Image credit: Dunes Center)

A remarkably well-preserved plaster-of-paris sphinx was uncovered in the dunes along the California coast, near Santa Barbara. The more than 90-year-old sphinx once graced the movie set of the famous 1923 black-and-white blockbuster "The Ten Commandments."After Hollywood director Cecil B. DeMille finished filming the movie, he had the set buried in the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes. Now, archaeologists are excavating the remains, which include everyday objects from the film's crew, such as prohibition liquor bottles, makeup and tobacco tins. [Read the full story on the sphinx discovery]

Old spoon

1923 movie sphinx photos

(Image credit: Dunes Center)

A spoon unearthed by archaeologists who were excavating the 1923 movie set. This spoon likely belonged to one of the 3,500 actors, extras and construction workers who lived in a nearby tent city and supported the film’s production.

Sphinx shoulder

1923 movie sphinx photos

(Image credit: Dunes Center)

What's left of the crumbling front-left shoulder of the newfound sphinx. This shoulder was the only part that was exposed above the sand before the excavation.

Careful excavation

1923 movie sphinx photos

(Image credit: Dunes Center)

Neil Rhodes, an archaeologist from Applied Earthworks, uses a straw to carefully blow away sand from the sphinx's headdress.

Sphinx paw

1923 movie sphinx photos

(Image credit: Dunes Center)

Amy Higgins, an art restorer, removes sand from the inside of the sphinx's leg and paw.

Gentle brushing

1923 movie sphinx photos

(Image credit: Dunes Center)

Ryan Wendel, an archaeologist with Applied Earthworks, brushes away sand from the left side of a sphinx's face.

Sphinx face

1923 movie sphinx photos

(Image credit: Dunes Center)

The newly discovered sphinx is brightly colored, with a deep terracotta hue. This bold color likely helped the sphinx stand out in the black-and-white movie.

This find is the first known sphinx at the site to retain its color, the team said.

Surfboard technology

1923 movie sphinx photos

(Image credit: Dunes Center)

The excavators weren't allowed to bring machinery into the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes, so they used surfboard-style sleds to pull the findings off site.

Art restorer Christine Muratore, archaeologists Rob and Michelle Newcomb, and senior archaeologist M. Colleen Hamilton drag the uncovered sphinx paw off-site, where it will dry for several months before being restored and put on display.

Sideways sphinx

1923 movie sphinx photos

(Image credit: Dunes Center)

A sideways shot of the newly discovered sphinx. Notice its detailed necklace, designed by Paul Iribe, a French artist known as "the father of art deco."

Facing up

1923 movie sphinx photos

(Image credit: Dunes Center)

Another shot of the newfound terracotta-colored sphinx, before it was loaded onto a truck.

[Read the full story on the sphinx discovery]