The Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Complex is considered one of California's natural wonders. But under this beautiful, 18-mile stretch of sand dunes lies a hidden treasure; artifacts from Cecil B. DeMille's "Ten Commandments", the last known remaining silent movie set from the 1920s.
DeMille thought he was destroying the set after filming by burying it in sand. But in reality, he ended up preserving it. Experts say that some of the artifacts that remain here are large-scale Egyptian style sets, make-up mirrors and even the leftovers from lunches eaten by actors Charlton Heston, Anne Baxter, Yul Brynner, Edward G. Robinson and Yvonne De Carlo.
The Ten Commandments is an epic film that dramatizes the biblical story of the Exodus. It was the last film that DeMille directed, and was one of the most financially successful films ever made.
Excavating the sets at Guadalupe Dunes has been a 27-year long project of filmmakers and archaeologists. Dubbed "The Lost City of DeMille", exhibits about the project can be found at The Dunes Center in the nearby town of Guadalupe. The Santa Barbara County permitting process has slowed excavation to a grinding halt and there are concerns that the agling relics may remain forever buried by the sands of time.
The Rancho Guadalupe Dunes Preserve continues to be a popular site for commercial films including G.I. Jane, Hidalgo, and Pirates of the Caribbean 3.