Yeah I said it…
They were the most advanced race in the Galaxy. They eventually ascended and literally became the Gods the Goa’uld pretended to be. So how can i say they where idiotic?
Is arrogant a better word?
Well there were arrogant there is no denying that. In Stargate Atlantis we saw several episodes where the Atlanteans seem to have relied far too heavily on their technology and superior intellect and underestimated an enemy or a problem. When the Atlantis expedition found an Ancients warship, the Tria, and the Asurans returned to Atlantis they immediately took control and instead of working with Shepard and the rest, they took control of city and kicked the Tauri out. They could have tried to learn from the team that had held the city for so long but chose not to. Then when the replicators approached they showed no concern at all.
They paid for their arrogance with their lives on that occasion.
To be honest though that is simply not why I say they are idiotic. I have another reason.
They can’t turn anything off! Seriously my teenage sons are better at turning off electronics than the Ancients. The Galaxy is littered with technology that is still operational millennia after the Ancients ascended and it is always getting SG1 in trouble. They can’t stick there head in an any glowing holes without having the entire Ancient data base downloaded into their brains it seems.
On Atlantis though that complete disregard for basic health and safety goes to an entirely new level. It seems that every room they go in is filled from floor to ceiling with something that will kills every man and woman on the base at very least… sometimes the entire Galaxy if given half a chance… And all of it was left either activated or in a state very easy to activate.
Why didn’t the Ancients destroy or at least make all this incredibly dangerous technology safe before they left the city? Maybe they were in a rush? Maybe they had to evacuate the city to in a hurry so didn’t have time to get the lights? Well no, it was a planned evacuation, we saw in in an episode. The city was evacuated and hidden purposefully. So all of those experiments and technologies were left their on purpose too.
The ancient Gene
They did have one safeguard though. The ancient technology, mostly, only worked if the person at the controls had the ancients gene handed down through generations of Ancient being who settled back on Earth. It is like a genetic key. A key you have no control over.
The Atlantic expedition had already figured out how to use gene therapy to allow anyone without the Gene to use the ancients technology to varying degrees of success. So even we figured out how to get passed the lock. The Wraith never did though but does that mean they wouldn’t have if they had found the city? Would they even need to? The Ancients had left so much stuff just lying around that even without the Gene I am certain the Wraith would have had a field day.
The Goa’uld though? That is a different story. For one thing they could have found Atlantis just as easily as Daniel and SG1 did. The Ancients did not even leave the shield on the Stargate up so the Goa’uld could have just walked straight in and plugged Laptops into all the Ancients control panels (Goa’uld equivalent to Dell laptops anyway) and cracked on as easily as pie.
Afterall the Goa’uld have been around a very long time and I think it is a safe assumption to say that they had knowledge of Ancient technology, perhaps far more than the Tauri did, even at the time of the mission to Atlantis. The Goa’uld were egomaniacs of course and evil but you cannot say they were not also very intelligent and able to adapt technology to their own needs. I doubt that any of their technology like shields, hyperspace engines, Sarcophagus etc was every their invention, it was almost certainly reverse engineered Ancient technology.
The biggest problem of course though is that the Goa’uld are HUMAN! Their hosts are human and so anyone of them could carry the Gene. Now we have seen some technology detect and lock out the Goa’uld by sensing the symbiote. The Asguard did this quite a lot. However the Ancients were mostly gone by the time the Goa’uld started to rise up, who knows if that failsafe was even included in their technology, if it was we never saw it in canon. Even if it was though the Goa’uld were the ultimate users and why wouldn’t they just use slaves to get what they want anyway.
Could you imagine a Goa’uld like Apophis or Ba’al finding Atlantis and unlocking even a tiny fraction of its power. They would have gone on to dominate the galaxy for eternity and nothing would have stood in their way.
So why were the Ancients written so untidy and incapable of putting their toys away after themselves? So the story could happen of course. If they had been more careful and dismantled all their failed experiments or turned off every nanite fueled weapon of death, it wouldn’t have really made for a fun show would it. Half the joy of SGA was that every room was filled with Ancients miracles and more than a fair share of horrors.
So yes the Ancients were complete morons… but we wouldn’t change them for the world.