Ancients or The Ancients, also known as Ancestors/The Ancestors, Lanteans, and Gate Builders, or Anquietas in their language, were those Alterans who left their home galaxy for Milky Way, which they called Avalon, and seeded it with life. They are one of the most advanced races known to have existed, having evolved for millions of years prior to the present day and reaching their level of technology long before humanity evolved on Earth. They are best known as the builders of the Stargates, Atlantis, and Destiny. Most of The Ancients have ascended to a higher plane of existence with near infinite knowledge and powerful abilities.
It is not known if they referred to themselves as Ancients while they were living on Earth several million years ago. It is likely that they began to use that name after their return to the Milky Way when they would have been ancient compared to the relatively young species of Humans who had populated Earth.
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 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.
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 unfathomable power including the ability to destroy entire armies and space fleets with a mere thought.
Tens of millions of years ago, the Alterans, the first evolution of humanity in four galaxies, 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.
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 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 ancient structures in Pegasus are relatively new (only 10,000 – 10 million years old instead of 10 – 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.
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.