Alteran (human-form), Ascended Beings (post-Ascension)
Advanced (and first evolution of) humans; ATA gene, heightened intellect, advanced mental abilities (mortal)
None/Higher plane of existence (present), Celestis (original), Earth, Lantea (past)
Galactic and others
|Form of government||
None (present), High Council (past)
None (present), original Alliance of Great Races (past)
|Out of universe information|
- "The original creators of the Stargate."
- —Daniel Jackson
The Ancients, also known as the Gate Builders or Anquietas in their language, were those Alterans who left their home galaxy for the Milky Way and seeded it with life. They are generally regarded as the most-advanced race to have ever existed, having evolved for millions of years prior to the present day and reaching a technological level unrivaled ever since. Following their disastrous war with the Wraith, however, the Ancient civilization was all but destroyed, and those who survived the conflict ascended to a higher plane of existence. With that in mind, the Ancients, for all intents and purposes, are extinct, though their influence is still felt even today.
- 1 History
- 2 Physiology
- 3 Culture
- 4 Known Ancients
- 5 Known Milky Way galaxy outposts
- 6 Known Pegasus Galaxy outposts
The First Exodus
- "Well, it stands to reason they weren't always called the Ancients."
- —Daniel Jackson
- Main article: Alteran
Millions of years ago, the Alterans, the first evolution of humanity, lived together as one society on an evolutionary path to Ascension in the Alteran Home Galaxy. A split then occurred among the Alterans, dividing them into two factions: the Ancients (who still called themselves the Alterans), who "believed" more in science, and the Ori, who became more religious.
Eventually, the Ori became so extreme in their beliefs that they tried to wipe out the Ancients. The Ancients' numbers were too few, and they were ultimately forced to hide their ways. Though they considered using their knowledge to defend themselves, they faced a war of attrition, one they ultimately believed that they could not win. To avoid genocide, the Ancients built a ship and left their galaxy, while the Ori remained. They both eventually ascended, but their paths continued to differ.
The Milky Way
- "Once upon a time, there was a race of people that went on a great journey through space, across the universe. They were called the Alterans. After much time they found a great belt of stars. The Alterans named their new home Avalon and built many 'astria porta'."
- —Daniel Jackson, reading from an Ancient tome
After many thousands of years the Ancients discovered the Milky Way, which they named Avalon, and first colonized the planets Dakara and Terra, which would later be known as Earth. They also built many Astria Porta, developed Zero Point Modules, and established colonies on many of the planets of the Milky Way, most notably Terra, Proclarush Taonas, Vis Uban, P3R-272 and Heliopolis. The earliest outposts were established approximately fifty million years ago.
- Main article: Lantean
Approximately five million years ago, a virulent plague infected the Ancients that nearly wiped out their entire species. Originating at the construction site for their new capital known as Vis Uban, the deadly disease would spread across much of the galaxy. They attempted to travel back in time, to stop the plague from spreading, but their efforts were unsuccessful. Unable to cure it, the surviving Ancients left Earth in a huge space-borne city, which they named Atlantus, on course for the Pegasus Galaxy.
- Though Dr Jackson postulated, because the Ori plague and the plague that infected the Ancients were similar, that the Ori may have been responsible for both, nothing confirms that the Ori were responsible for sending the original plague to the Milky Way galaxy.
- "In fact, they were first. We're the second evolution of their kind."
- —Carson Beckett
Over the tens of millions of years of their existence, the Ancients gradually evolved to become much more advanced than baseline humans, and the neurological makeup of the Ancients was much more complex than that of the average human. As their brains further evolved, their intelligence and capacity to store knowledge greatly increased, allowing them to develop some of the most advanced technology encountered thus far. Towards the end of their evolutionary development, but still before they ascended, they also developed various advanced mental powers including extraordinary sensory abilities, the ability to heal others with a touch, partial telepathy, and powerful telekinesis. The once ascended Merlin returned to human form in the most advanced genetic state a human could reach, with the ability to sense the presence of, and activate, a Stargate and generating energy beams created with his mind. It is likely that just before an Ancient reaches ascension, this is the final evolutionary state. Some types of Ancient technology can also create this state in an unevolved human without ascending them.
Within their genetic makeup was a particular gene, the so-called Ancient Technology Activation (ATA) gene, used to activate and interact with some of their more sensitive technology, like control chairs and Puddle Jumpers. It is still unknown if the gene was naturally occurring within the Ancients' physiology, or the result of genetic manipulation.
- "Well at some point during their evolution the Ancients reached a... uh, an advanced stage of being where they were able to rid themselves of their physical bodies and rise to a higher plane of existence, one in which they-they live as pure energy."
- —Dr. Rodney McKay
Eventually, many of the Ancients became able to separate from their physical bodies and live eternally as pure energy on a higher plane of existence with an infinitely increased capacity for knowledge, wisdom and previously unfathomable power including the ability to destroy entire armies and space fleets with a mere thought.
- "...a remarkable feat of engineering. The Ancients really knew what they were doing."
- —Samantha Carter
Despite being an advanced, industrialized society, the Ancients seemed to have a preference for stone structures enriched with Naquadah for strength while in the Milky Way galaxy. There were also two instances of a large monument with an enthroned figure housing advanced technology, such as the Repository of Knowledge and the Dakara superweapon. Even their technology appeared stone like. The Stargates had their symbols engraved on them, and spin when dialing. They were also known for writing information on stone tablets. It is not known why this was, however it seems that any other source of technology would have proven useless because they would also have to be on the same level of tech to even extract that information. Naquadah enriched Stone (or just Naquadah for the Stargates,) it seems is their preferred storage because of its ability to stay intact for millions of years while paper would degrade and anything tech based would require a power source that would eventually become depleted.
When in the Pegasus Galaxy they built more metallic looking structures, but when they returned back to the milky way, they constructed in a Stone appearance again. One suggestion for this is that, when compared with the ancient technology in the milky way, the anciant structures in pegasus is relatively new (only 10,000 years old instead of 50 million years old). As for the ancient architecture created after the return to the milky way, most of the ancients had ascended by then and the ones that were left wanted to fit in with human culture of the time (for example, Merlin and the knights of the round table).
- "If we interfere, we are no better than the Ori."
- —Ganos Lal
The Ancients are well known for their belief in free will and will go to great lengths to insure that others are allowed to make their own decisions without outside interference.
- "We believe in the systematic understanding of the physical world through observation and experimentation, through argument and debate, but, most of all, freedom of will."
- —Alteran woman
The Ancients believed in science, reason, and logic. Knowledge and enlightenment were fundamental to their world view. They believed that the universe was to be studied, and that scientific experimentation was essential to gaining understanding. Most importantly, the Ancients believed in free will. They believed that the right to choose whatever a person wants to believe is more important than anything else. This has been to their detriment, however, as it has been that very belief in free will that forces them to respect the rights of the Ori in believing their fanaticism. They also believed that they did not have the right to restrict the freedom of the followers of Origin to believe in the Ori by "brainwashing" the true nature of the Ori into their followers for much the same reasons.
- "Are not the Ancients forbidden from interfering with the existence of mortals?"
Retaining their beliefs in free will, as well as rules of non-interference, the highest law of the Ascended Ancients is the following:
- "Do not accelerate the natural ascension process of those beneath or interfere in their natural life, and ultimately, death."
To accelerate the natural ascension of any living being is a high crime among their people, and the Others, those who follow their rules of non-interference, have taken harsh measures against those that break. Oma Desala was an outcast for her efforts in helping others to ascend, and she was forced to watch Anubis use his knowledge to conquer the Milky Way. Orlin was also outcast when he used his powers to help the people of Velona to construct a weapon to protect themselves, but then intended to use the weapon against other races. Similarly, Chaya Sar was sentenced to protect only the people of Proculus when she destroyed a Wraith fleet over the planet.
There is a real, physical transfer of energy to the Ori that occurs through a human being's belief in them. For it to have a measurable effect, it requires massive numbers of humans relinquishing their will. This is one of the main reasons the Ancients have so strongly believed in strict non-interference in the lower planes, because the temptation to manipulate and align lower life forms in some order for your own purposes could result in this type of abusive corruption, as they see it. While this has lead to what might be considered draconian or cruel punishments to those who violate this rule, it stems from their belief in free will, and that to use their powers in such a way would make them no better than the Ori.
- "We're talking about the Gate Builders here. They did everything big."
- —Daniel Jackson
- Main article: Ancient technology
By the time they ascended, the Ancients had gathered more knowledge than any other race. Even now, that knowledge is far superior to that of the Tau'ri, the Goa'uld, and the Wraith. Only Ori technology, which was most likely created with ascended knowledge by the Priors, and Asgard technology can compare. Noted for its massive redundancies and the extensive use of control crystals, Ancient technology is remarkably similar, in both appearance and function, to that of the Ori, as they both once lived together as one society: the Alterans. Ancient technology is also the most resilient ever seen, remaining intact for millions of years without even minor signs of deterioration or decrease in performance.
Of all their technological creations the Stargates and Atlantis are their most famous, but they have developed devices as diverse and complicated as flying cities, advanced healing devices, beaming technology, zero-point power sources, long-range communication devices, seek-and-destroy projectiles and even genetic manipulation devices. Most of their weapons technology was designed and used during their centuries-long war with the Wraith in the Pegasus Galaxy, however after returning to the Milky Way the Ancients had no further need for either more powerful weapons or defensive shields (as their only potential enemies were the far inferior Goa'uld), so they became somewhat lacking when compared to their other technological marvels created during this time.
As a safeguard, most Ancient technology requires the presence of the ATA gene to use, but in a large number of instances the gene is only required to activate it. In such cases, once active anyone can use the technology, regardless of whether or not they possess the gene. The only times the ATA gene is required for continuous use is in important and potentially dangerous pieces of technology, such as the control chair.
- Main article: Ancient fleet
- For a list of Lanteans, see known Lanteans.
- Oma Desala (Engaged in eternal battle with Anubis)
- Orlin (De-Ascended)
- Merlin (De-Ascended and died of old age later)
- Morgan Le Fay (Possibly sacrificed herself to destroy Adria, or in eternal battle with same:Status cannot be determined)
Known Milky Way galaxy outposts
- Proclarush Taonas (Presumed destroyed)
- Terra Atlantus
- Vis Uban
- Solar observation outpost