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We learn at the beginning of Stargate: The Ark of Truth that the Ancients came to the Milky Way via starship. At the time, they did not have working Stargate technology but developed it in the Milky Way prior to launching Destiny and the Seed Ships

Presumably, the Ancients had to travel via ship before they set up their network of stargates. They also presumably needed ships to place the gates around the Milky Way.

Once the ancients arrived in Pegasus, they would have had to start over placing Stargates on planets and building a new empire in Pegasus using ships until the stargates were in place.

In Pegasus, we see a number of derelict Ancient ships, such as the Aurora, the Orion and the Traveler ships, scattered around the galaxy. In the Milky Way, however, the only Ancient ship discovered is the Time Traveling Puddle Jumper. Besides that, a handful of outposts and some structures were all that physically remained of the Ancients.

Considering that the Ancients spent a great deal more time in the Milky Way and they had perfected stargates by the time they got to Pegasus, it would make sense that there would be derelict Ancient ships all over the Milky Way but we never saw any.

So why the dearth of Ancient ships in the Milky Way?

I'm looking for in universe answers. I know that the meta answer is they didn't come up with the ships until MUCH later in the series.

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The ships were lost or destroyed in the war against the Wraith.

The Lantean-Wraith war took place in the Pegasus galaxy ten thousand years before the present, and it lasted a century. The Atlanteans lost. An elderly, time-looped Elizabeth Weir described the final stage of the war:

ALT-WEIR: The Atlanteans sent a delegation protected by their most powerful warships in the faint hope of negotiating a truce. One on one, the Atlantean ships were more powerful, but the Wraith were so many. After that great battle, it was only a matter of time.

"Before I Sleep" (SGA:1x15)

Since the Atlanteans didn't have a substantial fleet after the war, they could not have afforded to leave ships in our galaxy during the war's later stages, and they would have had an easier time recovering lost ships from the Milky Way (where Atlantean power was unrivaled) than from Pegasus.

After the war, the Atlantean refugees travelled to Earth via Stargate. From that time forward, they(1) dedicated themselves to ascension (for which ships were unnecessary) and non-interference (for which ships would have been counterproductive) with less-advanced cultures.


(1) EG, Ganos Lal / Morgan Le Fay.

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This is never directly addressed. Obviously the ancients had ships of some sort, otherwise they wouldn't be able to seed the stargate network. In Pegasus, humans discover a war-torn galaxy, and based purely on the Lanteans' need for ships during their war, it is not surprising to find them here and there. This was not true in the milky way, where the problem the ancients was facing was a plague. Remember, unlike Pegasus, there are no major space-faring civilizations in the milky way; the goa'uld are primarily planet bound and feudal, and their influence is almost universally confined to worlds with stargates, with ships being used to fight over worlds with stargates [it is a major plotpoint that worlds with stargates unknown to the goa'uld, or worlds without stargates are 'safe' to some extent from the goa'uld, such as Hebridan or the Aschen homeworld]. Also, space is big; there could be many thousands of ancient warships floating around out there and no one would know.

Additionally, the Time Traveling Puddle Jumper was put there by Janus after the Lanteans returned to Earth.

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In Stargate SG-1 S8E13, "It's Good to Be King", Sam, Teal'C & Daniel find a puddle jumper/gate ship: the one they used to go back to ancient Egypt. To get the Z.P.M it has a cloaking device so we know that the Ancients/Alterans/Atlanteans have that technology and although it is more than likely they did all go to the Pegasus galaxy to help with the wraith war it is at least possible that there are some ships still in our galaxy. And that the only reason that they haven't been found is that they are cloaked & if its run on 1 or more Z.P.M it can last 10000's of years as long as it's only running one thing e.g. the cloak not life support nor engine etc.

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    Welcome to the site. This is pretty confusing - it's one or two rambling, run-on sentences. If you can clean it up and make it clear what you're saying that isn't said in the other answer, it would be an improvement. – T.J.L. Oct 29 '18 at 13:47
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The best way to answer this is, is to look into the rough timeline of the Ancients.

As we see in Atlantis' opening episode, SEVERAL MILLION YEARS AGO, is when the Ancients left Earth in Atlantis. They arrive in the Pegasus Galaxy and spread out, then the wraith arrive and a huge war erupts. The Ancients bring ALL ships back to Atlantis to evacuate through the Stargate to Earth. The only exception to that is the few aboard the Lantean Warship Tria who were unable to get back so set course for Earth before their hyper-drive broke down and they proceeded at relativistic speeds.

That's a very brief but accurate account for Pegasus, but what about the Milky Way?

We know the Ancients suffered from some sort of plague in the Milky Way, Window of Oppurtunity showed us Golf through a Stargate is possible; it also showed an Ancient outpost attempting to give themselves more time to stop something, maybe a plague?

Then of course there is the actual plague that Ayriana had in Antartica. The same Ayriana (name in Ancient unknown) that appeared at the pilot of Atlantis. So that plague happened several million years ago and those that didn't die or go to Pegasus tried to reach ascension (successfulness unknown).

So simply put, I don't think they had any ships in the Milky Way, maybe those they had left for Pegasus long ago to avoid the plague, or they just simply haven't lasted long enough.

When you also consider that any ships in orbit back them would most certainly have re-entered the atmosphere of whatever planet they were orbiting after a million or so years without someone to correct those orbits.

  • And don't forget that any ships that would be easily reachable by the Goa'uld would have been reverse engineered. The show explicitly mentions that most of Goa'uld technology is reverse engineered from other races, and this includes Ancient technology, which must have meant the Goa'uld found working pieces of Ancient technology (including their hyperdrive, which is mentioned many times to be "inferior copy of Ancient hyperdrive", and many devices). These probably weren't battleships like in Pegasus, since even puddle jumpers are shown to easily best Goa'uld motherships in combat. – Luaan Dec 13 '18 at 12:43

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