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Archaeologists unearth Ten Commandments set in California desert

A team of archaeologists has reportedly unearthed artifacts once thought lost to history: giant sphinxes from the 1923 film The Ten Commandments.

Evidently inspired by the Pharaoh Ramses, director Cecil B. DeMille ordered the set of the silent epic buried under the sand in California's Guadalupe Dunes shortly after filming was complete. Included in the burial were 21 sphinxes that lined the grand entrance to the film's Pharoah's City. Made out of plaster, each was 12 feet tall and weighed five tons.

One of the sphinxes was first spotted in 2012 by a team of archaeologists, The Lompoc Record reports, and excavators have now unearthed two. The second is smaller than the first, and the excavators think it might have been used as a prop that actors could haul around. Both will go on display in a local cultural center.

The project is "unlike anything else on Earth," the director of the excavation Doug Jensen said. "It provides a way to preserve an important piece of Americana."

Unfortunately, the team reportedly had to wrap up the dig on Monday — $120,000 can only get you so many giant sphinxes — but the members are keeping the whereabouts of the set to themselves. It's "a carefully guarded secret known only to a few," says the Record.

You can watch a video of the excavation below: --Nico Lauricella