Coast Dig Will Seek Artifacts of DeMille’s 1923 Film Epic

Associated Press

Peter Brosnan says he has to raise some money before he can raise the gates of Karnak.

Brosnan, head of Lost Cities Productions, had hoped to start excavating this spring or summer for the eclectic Egyptian sets used in the 1923 Cecil B. DeMille epic “The Ten Commandments,” but has had to delay his dig until fall or next spring.

Brosnan said he has also been unable to launch a fund-raising drive for the expedition, but hopes to start in four to six weeks when plans for the dig are completed.

The Los Angeles television producer has received some money for a documentary film that will include footage of the dig and interviews with many crew members who worked on the first Biblical movie. The film was remade in 1956, and starred Charlton Heston.


Brosnan hopes to interview about 100 people, including crew members and movie extras still living in the Guadalupe area. The documentary is designed for broadcast on PBS.

30 Miles of Sand

Guadalupe Dunes is a 30-mile expanse of sand stretching from Guadalupe, 150 miles northwest of Los Angeles, up the coast to Pismo Beach. It is partly Pismo Beach State Park and partly private land.

Among the artifacts Brosnan hopes to find are the 800-foot wide gates of Karnak, with walls depicting huge chariots and rearing horses.


The statues, gates and other things were left behind 62 years ago when DeMille ended production of his first version of “The Ten Commandments.”

He ordered the sets buried and joked in his posthumously published autobiography, “If a thousand years from now archeologists happen to dig beneath the sands of Guadalupe, I hope that they will not rush into print with the amazing news that Egyptian civilization extended all the way to the Pacific Coast of North America.”

Brosnan is unconcerned about the discovery of an old contract that specified that DeMille was to remove the statuary from the dunes.

About two years ago, a preliminary dig at the site uncovered the head of a plaster horse.


“In this case, I think the boys from Hollywood pulled a fast one,” Brosnan said.