No doubt they will be jealous across the border in Las Vegas. A crack team of archaeologists is being assembled in California to unearth an ancient Egyptian civilisation buried beneath the shifting sands of a coastal village north of Los Angeles. More than 150 metres under the dunes of Guadalupe, population 6,000, is a city with 10-storey high walls and a vast boulevard guarded by five-tonne sphinxes. It is all the work of the first pharaoh of Hollywood, Cecil B. DeMille. When DeMille - the man who made the first feature film in Hollywood - finished his vastly over-budget epic, The Ten Commandments, in 1923, he ordered one of the most elaborate sets in movie history buried. Paramount Studios had been panicking as DeMille spent more than US$1.4 million on the film, hiring 1,500 builders to recreate an ancient Egyptian city, complete with hand-carved hieroglyphics, across an area the size of two football fields. Ironically, he had refused to make the film in Egypt - the site of his 1950s remake starring Charlton Heston - fearing a budget blowout. Few sets have ever approached the cost and detail devoted to the original. The mischievous film-maker refused to reveal the exact location of the city in his memoirs, writing only of the need for caution in future digs. 'If 1,000 years from now, archaeologists happen to dig beneath the sands of Guadalupe, I hope they will not rush into print with the amazing news that Egyptian civilisation, far from being confined to the Valley of the Nile, extended all the way to the Pacific Ocean of North America,' he wrote. Those archaeologists have been assembled sooner than DeMille expected and know exactly what they are looking for, the Washington Post reported at the weekend. 'Digging up a fake Egyptian city in California is hard to do without laughing, I know,' said film-maker and expedition leader Peter Brosnan. 'But this is an important piece of early 20th-century American history. It is about the only set left from the era of silent film. We know it is down there in the sand and we think it is mostly intact.' The team insists it has no choice but to approach the site with the same techniques used on remains 10,000 years old. They also hope it could provide clues to life in the 1920s, with prominent Art Deco architects involved in its creation. Already a few artefacts have found their way to the surface and are on display as if they were ancient relics in Guadalupe, whose residents are reportedly keen on the US$150,000 (HK$1.1 million) dig.