Hollywood director Cecil B. DeMille made the first iteration of his biblical epic The Ten Commandments (1923) in the sand dunes of Guadalupe, California. The film set, erected by some one thousand workers, was designed by famed art deco fashion designer Paul Iribe. When the filming was over DeMille had the whole site bulldozed. Soon, the winds of Western California shifted the sands, and the plaster ruins of Egyptian temples fell into oblivion. Archaeologists are presently digging for plaster antiquities in the wildlife reserve at Guadalupe. On display is a fragile plaster paw from a sphinx, excavated in the Californian desert in the fall of 2017. This precious Hollywood antiquity is presented in front of a scene from The Ten Commandments, showing the avenue of sphinxes outside the palace of Ramesses IIs, with its four colossi, modelled on those at Abu Simbel.
Loan from the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Center, California.
Photo: Eirik Bøhn
The paw is part of the exhibition Images of Egypt,curated by Mari Lending, Tim Anstey and Eirik Arff Gulseth Bøhn and shown at the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo in autumn 2018. The exhibition is produced under PriArc: Printing the Past, a research project directed by the Oslo School of Architecture and Design, as part of the European Union Humanities in the European Research Area (HERA) programme. Together with the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and Musée d’Orsay, Paris, the Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo, is a museum partner in PriArc.