Where is this room and what is it used for?

Technically it is not confirmed where this room is, whether it is on the ship or on the planet but in either case, I could not determine what the purpose of the room could have been?

  • What is the giant head for?
  • Did every ship carry one?
  • Do they worship themselves?
  • Why the mutable patterns on the ceiling?

The black mutagen is scattered around the room in containers that are OPEN. I am having a hard time understanding what purpose they could have sitting around the room. The spaces between the cannisters seems very small so I can't even seen the Engineers moving around this room very easily.

What would they use this room for? Speculation allowed but movie facts are desirable if possible.

Alien head from Prometheus

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    I'm pretty sure this room was not actually on the ship. The tunnels outside are Rough-hewn, and the floor is dirt. The ship is at the end of the LONG tunnel, far from the area first explored. – aslum Jun 15 '12 at 21:26
  • If its not on the ship, then that makes it even stranger to me. How did it get there, why put it there and why surround it with Weapons of Genetic Mass Destruction? Arrrrggg! Too many questions! – Thaddeus Howze Jun 15 '12 at 23:24
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    Um, it's a base/complex and the ship is docked. Remember there was more than one ship. If you pay close attention to the holographic map on Prometheus (not the star map David activates) you'll notice it is a huge dome shape (mimicing the huge structure we see from outside). There is a long tunnel, and later we see a hologram of the C shaped ship, which is docked at the end of the tunnel, halfway or so to where Prometheus landed. – aslum Jun 15 '12 at 23:49
  • I think a better question is why they stored those things so poorly in that room. Just sitting there evenly spaced on the ground, or in some big pile. I'd think having them organized and secure would have been a better idea. – Gorchestopher H Jun 16 '12 at 3:01
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    They show a stockroom of the canisters exactly like you describe a bit later in the film. Chilling. – Thaddeus Howze Jun 16 '12 at 3:40

I believe that there is a good chance the idol was merely meant to distract from the fact that the room is a death trap.

The room maybe similar to the ending room/construct of Revelation Space, where the aliens have lured the humans to a particular place with an origin mystery simply to assist the aliens in eradicating humanity.

Once the atmosphere hits the room the bio-agents are set in motion, the only thing that needs to happen is for the explorers to stick around long enough to get infected. But it does seem like an awful lot of canisters just to form a simple trap, though apparently they have quite a stockpile overall.

Perhaps the Engineers that built the bio-weapons facility also had rivals or enemies that they sought to guard against. Rigging a central room with a booby trap, might be useful as a security measure.

On the other-hand in the intro, the aliens appear to have had at one time a reverence for life and creating life. By that same token, maybe they attach a religious significance to causing death. Apparently, Scott considered having the Engineers be Jesus at some point but felt it was a little too blunt for mainstream audiences.

From Alien vs Predator wiki - Engineers:

This explains the cave drawings 'inviting' humanity to track them down. Some fans have suggested that Jesus Christ was an Engineer and his death at the hands of man was the point they turned against humanity. In an interview with Movies.com Ridley Scott acknowledges that this back story was considered but neither confirms nor denies that this was indeed used in the final script:

Movies.com: "We have heard that it was scripted that the Engineers were targeting our planet for destruction because we had crucified one of their representatives, and that Jesus Christ might have been an alien. Was this ever considered?"

Ridley Scott: "We definitely did, and then we thought it was a little too on the nose. But if you look at it as an 'our children misbehaving down there' scenario, there are moments where it looks like we've gone out of control, running around in armor and skirts, which of course would be the Roman Empire. And they were given a long run. A thousand years before their disintegration actually started to happen. And you can say, 'Let's send one more of our emissaries to see if he can stop it'. Guess what? They crucified him."

Either way the idol was probably built to inspire awe, but it's not clear whether the idol is intended for humans or Engineers, or whether it was built with a trap in mind.

What is the giant head for?

A trap and/or to inspire awe, religious or otherwise.

Did every ship carry one?

I don't think they were on the ship yet when they found the room.

Do they worship themselves?

As Orac would say this question is illogical since all religions possess some elements of self worship. But kidding aside, I would say yes in a sense, though as a god-form or a mortal I cannot say.

Why the mutable patterns on the ceiling?

Probably decorative art, whether murderous or religious I'm sure the Engineers felt they had to have a sense of style.

Another theory: The idol and room were for racial reunion, but that idea was abandoned in favor of a death trap:
What if the room was originally intended to be for a species reunion for the two species Engineer and man. But after some negative interaction with humanity the idea was abandoned and then the room was booby trapped when some of the Engineers started to have second thoughts about creating other intelligent species.

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    Great answer, and (including "Another theory") it would confirm that the cave drawings on Earth were indeed inviting humans to come to the solar system (though the motive behind the invite is unclear). – Shane F. Jun 23 '12 at 18:40

--movie spoilers all over this text--

If you accept H. R. Giegers' original works and his commentary on it as canon, we know at least two things about the engineers:

  1. Like most of H. R. Gieger's work they were or could be cyborgs or similar man-machine mixes. The pilot chair the engineer enter and gets enveloped in at the end is a replica of the fossilized pilot chair and pilot from the first alien movie. Giegers intention for it was to depict a pilot who was his pilot role to such a degree that he had fused with the machinery and ceased to be anything but the pilot. enter image description here

  2. They attached a religious significance to the alien monster. In Gieger's picture below, the overarching cyborg woman is a reference to the portrayal of the egyptian goddess Nut, which was the goddess of the sky and gave birth to several other gods. Gieger's picture then shows a goddess sending the alien eggs down from the skies.

enter image description here

It is then a small leap to imagine that the engineers, being already in a symbiotic relationship with their machines and revering the aliens, also were in some symbiosis with the aliens. In fact, have you noticed how there were only male engineers?

Gieger originally played a lot on allusions to sex. He was a designer for the first Alien film and his original design of the egg had the top split along a single slit in what became a comically obvious allusion to a vagina. (*) The face-hugger force the victim to deep-throat in an obvious rape simile and then the victim, often male, is forced to undergo a gestation and "give birth" to the alien. In short, the vagina-egg force the victim into taking the role of the receptive sex.

So imagine, here we have The Engineers, a species which has lost its females and now only reproduce via machines. (Plenty of cyborg fetuses in Gieger's art btw) But they revere as mystical the ancient "female", which is symbolically opposite both to males and machines. (**) In its contained revered form the engineer's "female" is abstracted away into a sticky oozing fluid with worms. It doesn't get more biologically icky than that after all and probably horrifies the engineer-machines like the depictions of the mutilated corpse on a cross are meant to do for christians. This goo doubles as paint for their mystical paintings.

A devout engineer may volunteer to "mate" with the goo. Only then do a true biological organism with its own lifecycle appear. Note that in Prometheus the protagonist only births a face-hugger, which must then infect another organism before an alien occurs. The aliens lay the eggs and have queens and drones. Recreating this two-sexes fully biological creature is seen as a holy act by some engineers.

We can guess at a schism early in the religious history of the engineers. They start out as in the opening scene of the movie, with the creation of biological life as the holy act. Then they split into two factions. One with a mechanical leaning which worshipped the machine-inspired alien monster and sent it from the stars to many destinations, preying on the life seeded by the original religion. (A semi-canon comic link an early extinction of life on earth with aliens) Then there's one faction with a sapient leaning which recreates life in their own image, including humans. Trope-wise they suffer from the "Gepetto Syndrome", which is sometimes used in ridicule about men who, unable to create life themselves, obsess with robotics or artificial life. Being a Gepetto they fall in love with their own creation, can find no fault in it or think they can just fix its faults like you fix a machine.

The reason the Engineers turned on us are then either that we were a failure in the eyes of the humanoid-makers and they turn on their own creation in anger (the movie characters' hypothesis I think) or that the engineers in Prometheus belong to the alien-faction and regard humans as sacrilege committed by the other faction. An interpretation is that the engineer awoken in the movie rips the head off David because his question implies that the engineer would be one of the heathen humanoid-makers. Prior to that the drowsy engineer hopes that the humans are there as devoted and willing vessels for the alien "incubation".

The Engineer ship is then one small part of a giant religious war machine where the alien-breeders seek to eradicate the works of the humanoid-breeders.

So what about the head? Others have pointed out that the head is not on the ship itself. The room is a church and they worship the original humanoid "mother species" which created the machines and their male-only descendants. The head is a "mother" (note machines are birthed in the head of the inventor) but is depicted as the male's faces with a few streaks of technology because the engineers have lost all recollection of how their females actually looked.

Ridley Scott: If you're reading this, I'll trade you the plot for a Gieger painting and a face-hugger plushy. :-)

(*) The vagina design was turned down by the producers, citing catholic audiences as a reason. (Really I think it was just too gross, but put it nicely to the artist :-) Gieger then changed the design by keeping the lips of the slit but making it into a cross instead. He writes that he was quite amused that he had hid the vagina by merging it with the sacred symbol of the prudes he re-designed it for.

(**) Female as base body and male as logical spirit is unfortunately a common underlying theme in much art, even today.


I believe the room originally had some religious significance to the Engineers but as more and more of the weapons were made they simply needed more storage space. They had the good common sense not to store the weapons on board the ships.

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    But later in the film we see the weapons inside the C-shaped ship! – CamelBlues Jun 18 '12 at 18:52

I am not mistaken, the only thing we know about Chamber-Engineers interaction is how they ran there.

From the movie it seemed that they ran from something. They ran so badly that they dared to kill one of their own rather than let the doors open longer. So they thought that the sealed door will provide them with security (the chamber was not inspected completely but I doubt that other bodies were there so it actually saved them).

From this point of view room rather looks like laboratory or some kind of testing facility. This kind of room would provide them with security since it has to be properly isolated.

The purpose of the head is a mystery indeed; it is too big to be a device, which could be manipulated from the ground. What is strange for me is that the head has several stripes. The stripes look uncharacteristic for sculptures or any kind of art (why such imperfection). Also in this case I think it is some kind of a bigger device which can either move (open) or transmit. These stripes can be either power source or they can have mechanical origin. enter image description here

And to fit my theory into the "mutable patterns on the ceiling": ). They could be some kind of shield. Or maybe evaporated black liquid (every liquid evaporates regardless the temperature) condensated on the ceiling.


Just speculating, but it's possible their quest to wipe out Earth had some sort of religious significance to them, in which case this room could function as some sort of shrine (it could also explain the artwork on the ceiling).

Or perhaps it was meant to symbolically show their superiority in a way that any earth-people entering the room of WMDs would know who it was that caused their destruction. I'm not sure / don't remember how they planned on distributing the mutagens, so again, this is just speculation.


Since all of the answers here are speculation, I'll add my own.

Perhaps the Engineers are some type of death-cult. We see this at the start of the film,

when the Engineer, on Earth, ingests the black oil. The oil kills him, but he falls into the water to populate the planet with the remnants of his DNA.

Possibly the room had religious significance in their death cult rituals, which would explain why the canisters are arranged around the head.


I think the big head is in the image of their creator. It appears to be bound. I think it is Fifield asked if they worshipped it. This might indicate that they have slain their creators. Now they're going after their creators' other creation, humans.

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    Welcome to Science Fiction and Fantasy SE, take a look at our tour to get an idea of the site. Is there any evidence you could provide to aid your points of view? To make your answer a bit stronger? – Edlothiad Feb 12 '17 at 16:57

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