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As was pointed out in an answer to "Are Goa'uld naturally evil?", the Goa'uld were once a fledgling race with the Unas as the only attachment outside of their little pond. However, suddenly this brand new race, and its bronze age level hosts began traveling to distant planets and capturing ancient tech. I understand that they have a Stargate with a DHD, however learning how it works, and dialing it is a formidable task.

Did something occur to give the Goa'uld a push in the right direction, or did they get lucky by banging on the DHD?

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They got lucky banging on a DHD, which with a fully functional DHD is not that hard. If you don't have one then the Gate can't update to compensate for stellar drift (See Correlative Update System, hence why Earth could only dial Abydos until Daniel found Ra's Cartouche temple on Abydos.

Once they began exploring the galaxy it wouldn't have been long before they ran cross the Alterans, who were at that time dying out from the Ancient contagion. Through hook or by crook they got their hands on Ancient tech and were able to learn from it, leading to the hyperdrives and the healing sarcophagus.

I suspect that this is where Naquadah entered the Goa'uld physiology. Since most Alterans tech in the milky way was Naquadah powered and the Goa'uld did not have access to the ATA gene Naquadah could have played a part in their interfacing with gene locked devices. The Naquadah allowing them to mentally "hack" the Alteran technology, granting them limited access to gene locked equipment. This could also lead to them developing the Kara Kesh and Healing Device, again probably lifted from Alteran designs.

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    They don't have ancient tech or else they'd have ZPMs and intergalactic hyperdrive – Valorum Nov 4 '19 at 18:36
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    The answer didn’t say they got ALL of the Ancient tech, or got it directly from them, but the ring transporters and crystal based hyperdrive tech certainly is ancient derived. – Celestialgranturismo Nov 4 '19 at 19:53
  • IIRC, the Goa'uld and Alterans never came face-to-face; the Goa'uld could only have learned from technology abandoned by the Alterans, starting with the stargates. – Anthony X Nov 9 '19 at 2:19
  • Goa'uld can't have learned FTL from Ancients directly: In the story arc at the end of season 1, when SGC learned that Apophis was going to attack with spaceships, Teal'c was asked how fast Goa'uld ships were, and he answered "10 times the speed of light", which led to the wrong assumption they'd have enough time to prepare. It turned out they were much faster. IIRC it was told or at least suggested that this was not insufficient knowledge by Teal'c but due to recent advances in Goa'uld technology. OTOH, the Ancients had ships fast enough to cross intergalactic distances within days or weeks. – Volker Landgraf Nov 9 '19 at 3:59
  • Sure, but the Goa'uld are replicating technology they don't understand. Give someone a supercar and no parts or the knowledge to create the parts they would be lucky to build something comparable to a model-t. The Goa'uld don't share technology between themselves unless absolutely necessary. In fact, they compete over who can gather more ancient technology. So suddenly unlocking the ability to improve their crappy emulation of Ancient tech would not be unheard of. Especially in the years following the death of the supreme system lord Ra and his hoarded technology is raided. – Tyson of the Northwest Nov 12 '19 at 17:40
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Most likely scenario:

  1. Civilized humans (of any level of development) visit the planet of Unas and are attacked by the water dwelling Goa'uld.
  2. The Goa'uld access the memories of their new hosts and quickly learn about their culture, science, technology and their home world.
  3. The Goa'uld use their new found skills and technologies to attack more and more advanced cultures.
  4. They start passing down all their gathered knowledge genetically.

Given their ability to assimilate knowledge and pass it down genetically, they could have gone from stone age to space age in decades, if not less.

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    1) doesn't make sense. Goa'uld are responsible for distributing human life across the Milky Way. – user1030 Mar 19 '12 at 10:30
  • <slaps forehead> I should not have said humans. How about the stargate.wikia.com/wiki/Serrakin or other races? – HNL Mar 19 '12 at 11:48
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Reconciling the 1994 Kurt Russel movie and the SG-1 series:

  • The Unas and the Goa'uld evolve on a shared home world, the Unas becoming the first hosts to the Goa'uld.
  • The Alterans (ancients) at some point place a stargate on the Unas/Goa'uld home world.
  • The Unas-hosted Goa'uld learn to operate the stargate and proceed by various means to appropriate other found technology, including FTL spacecraft, ring transporters, staff weapons, etc.. They may have encountered and destroyed other non-human races in the course of their technological appropriations. We don't know this, but can only assume from their somewhat distinct and eclectic mix of technologies and the statement that the Goa'uld tended not to invent technology for themselves.
  • The Unas-hosted Goa'uld visit Earth (ancient Egypt), encountering living humans for the first time, and make the switch from Unas hosts to humans; they also enslave humans, transport them to other worlds, and visit other places on Earth, thus inspiring numerous Earth mythologies and intentionally or accidentally seeding human colonies on other worlds.

The key point is that the Goa'uld symbiotes have the mental capacity and ambition to learn and advance themselves technologically, but lack the anatomy to manipulate anything in their environment. The Unas, however, have the requisite anatomy but seemed to be content with their primitive lifestyle. Taking Unas as hosts allowed them to act on their ambitions. Finding a stargate got them off their home world and gave them access to and insights into advanced technologies, including FTL space travel.

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