It is often stated throughout the Stargate series that the Goa'uld are more technologically advanced, however, during the SG-1 episode "Pretense" (3.15), it is stated that the Goa'uld did not invent their technologies, but rather they assimilate them from the civilizations they take as host.

We know that the Goa'uld's original hosts were the evolved Unas, although we only see the primitive Unas, the "un-Goa'ulded" ones. IIRC, there was a distinction, and the evolved Unas were the ones taken as hosts.

Eventually, the Goa'uld take humans as hosts. The only way that could happen, and the way that's implied in the show, is that the Goa'uld traveled to Earth and abducted humans. This implies that the Goa'uld had space travel (and probably not just stargate travel), possibly the evolved Unas' space travel technology.

Is this accurate? Did the Goa'uld take over a technologically advanced Unas race and then trade Unas for humans? Were the full origins of the Goa'uld ever described in the Stargate series canon?

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    Another alternative is that a space-faring race (Asgard, Nox, Furling, etc) landed on P3X-888 and the Goa'uld took them as hosts.
    – Xantec
    Commented Jan 30, 2021 at 5:41
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    @Xantec "Goa'uld technology" seems to be inferior to those races' technology, so they are the least likely candidates, but other minor races could possibly be the source.
    – BMF
    Commented Jan 30, 2021 at 6:04
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    "The only way that could happen, and the way that's implied in the show, is that the Goa'uld traveled to Earth and abducted humans." There were humans on other Ancient worlds, IIRC. That's why there's humans in the galaxy that Atlantis was located in.
    – nick012000
    Commented Jan 30, 2021 at 12:50
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    @Xantec The Asgard seem to be the most likely candidate out of the original Four Great Races, considering as the Ancients were mostly ascended or didn't care anymore, the Nox tend to avoid conflict and great exploration in favour of contemplation and self-reflection and the Furlings are a total unknown. And then there is the movie version of the pre-Earth host of Ra who looked suspiciously Roswell-greyish. Before Ra took that Egyptian boy as host the Asgard Famrir had been his host.
    – BMWurm
    Commented Jan 30, 2021 at 16:56
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    I actually recall there being a distinction between primitive Goa'uld and evolved Goa'uld, rather than primitive Unas and evolved Unas. The primitive Goa'uld having originated from the Unas/Goa'uld homeworld. I don't think there was a more evolved race of Unas. I think the evolved race of Goa'uld took the Unas as host and figured out the Stargate and left the planet, leaving the primitive Goa'uld behind. Commented Jan 30, 2021 at 18:18

6 Answers 6


In SG1: The First Ones, Daniel postulates that the Ancients left a Stargate on the joint Goa'uld/Unas homeworld and that the Goa'uld, in Unas bodies, learned to operate that gate, possibly through the same trial-and-error process that allowed Ernest Littlefield to travel to Heliopolis.

With the capacity to travel to other inhabited worlds in the gate system, it was only a matter of time before they encountered a species that had space travel that they could either occupy or simply steal from.

DANIEL: Obviously the Unas who were taken over must have figured out how to work the Stargate and left, but…why not all of them?

  • A thousand Unas with a thousand DHD’s. Or they’re smarter than they look and figured out it’s purpose and method without a cartouche. Either way, I’m glad there’s an answer in universe Commented Jan 30, 2021 at 18:21

You would have to imagine probably more than a few technologically advanced species and systems were overrun by the snakes in their first few centuries of expansion. It just so happens humans were the BEST fit biologically. But with the ability to surreptitiously take over host and immediately know everything they know, it could have been any unlucky spacefaring (or gate traveling) species to land on Gao’uld Prime and get too close to the water.. Now they have ships, computers, weapons, opposable thumbs, fine motors skills, their memories, intelligence. and there goes the neighborhood. The same scenario almost happens to earth several times.

It’s never shown in an episode (so I can’t make it an answer) but their species likely went from swimming in a pond and jumping into the occasional Unas to flying around in spaceships and taking over worlds in the same day. This gets them out the door and makes them a minor power, but their real GALACTIC expansion likely happens when they encounter Ancient tech, find highly compatible humans, and can credibly take and hold power. The sarcophagus is what made them evil and megalomaniacal in the first place, and that was just ancient tech that worked on human physiology but happened to create problems for the Gao’uld. For all we know the first ones were benevolent symbiotes like the Tok’ra until encountering and using this life-prolonging tech.

The species (if there were any) that got overran in their ‘escape’ just weren’t as good a fit, they took their knowledge and tech and then were done with them. Or they became the Furlings, who knows. But it was never shown on the TV Show, e.g: “described in series canon”. Or maybe they were originally a bio-weapon designed by the ancients to return to Pegasus and infiltrate and destroy the Wraith, maybe we’ll find out when they air the newest episodes of SG1 and Atlantis this Friday night!

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    God, I wish they were returning this Friday night... Anyway, great answer, and you're probably right, we probably won't know the original advanced species that brought the Goa'ulds out into space.
    – BMF
    Commented Jan 30, 2021 at 14:34
  • Also, the sarcophagus was designed from the ancient healing device, after the Goa'uld started enslaving humans. It probably advanced their megalomania, but perhaps they were that way from the get-go.
    – BMF
    Commented Jan 30, 2021 at 14:38
  • They should write a book: Hosts, Sarcophogi, and Stargates
    – DKNguyen
    Commented Jan 30, 2021 at 21:11

The narrative never explicitly states how.

An explanation might be that the Goa'uld encountered an as of yet unseen race (perhaps even the Furlings, a group who were frequently mentioned throughout the series) that possessed FTL (faster than light) technology that was substantially different than that possessed by either The Ancients or the Asgard. This is best exhibited by the fact that Goa'uld Ha'taks and Al'Kesh vessels were inferior to what the former races were able to field.

The Goa'uld must have possessed that race (or those races), adapted their technology as their own, and then decided that to maintain their purported "godhood" that they could not have their technology advance as that would indicate that they were not "divine beings", but only an advanced race. This must have occurred before the events of the 1994 film, as they clearly had FTL travel capabilities at that time, as well as understanding the Stargate system's operation.

Another possible source of technological advancement might have been the race whose ruined world was seen in the episode "There But For The Grace of God". That race was clearly far more advanced than the Goa'uld as exhibited by their invention of the quantum mirror which allowed for travel between alternate universes. There's a sign on the planet that T'ealc interprets as meaning the surface is highly radioactive. The reason for this is implied that it was attacked by another race, perhaps even the Goa'uld themselves. This race is never shown, although the mirror itself plays a role in three other episodes during the series run.

Finally, it's clear that from the episode that had Reese (a human form replicator android) that multiple human and humanoid races possessed advanced technology but had limited or no encounters with the Goa'uld. It's possible that through trade or scavenging and reverse engineering crashed or derelict spacecraft, the Goa'uld could have adopted FTL capabilities which thus allowed them to spread further throughout the galaxy.


The fact that the Goa'uld home world has a stargate implies that ancient technologically advanced humans travelled there at least once.

It is therefore reasonable to assume that at least one of those ancient humans became a host, whether by accident (got too close to the water), voluntarily (in an effort to communicate with the Unas), or forcefully by an Unas host.

Goa'uld larvae inherit memory genetically from the queen and have access to the memory of their hosts. The Tok'ra share control of the body as well as their knowledge/memories with their hosts, but the Goa'uld do not like to share.

We know that the Tok'ra and Goa'uld developed these ideological disagreements while blended with humans, and those two symbiotes are the parents of all Tok'ra and Goa'uld outside of the Goa'uld home world. This is either because they were the first two blended humans, or because they killed off any others.

The fact that the Goa'uld home world is still primitive suggests that the "evolved Unas" did not evolve on their home world. It is far more likely that they were brought off-world by ancient humans (blended or not) and civilized later.

What I don't understand is how the ancient humans could have fled to the Milkyway, after losing a war to the Wraith and not set up precautions against this sort of thing, preventing a Goa'uld takeover from ever starting. Humans must have gotten cataclysmically dumber between the generations that were culled by the Wraith and the generations that were enslaved by the Goa'uld. I imagine this period of time would play out like the events in the movie "Idiocracy".

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    We know that the Ancient 'Seed ships' emplaced stargates without necessarily visiting planets. Also the timelines really don't add up. The Alterans fled the Milky way millions of years before the Goa'uld became a dominant species.
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 6, 2021 at 19:30

Season 2 episode 6 Sam Carter has the ability to use Goa'uld technology on the basis that she once had a Tok'ra within her. This means the technology the Goa'uld use are tailored specifically to them in someway. We can deduce from this that the Goa'uld have the capacity to at least reverse engineer the technology they use, or the technology they use would not be exclusive in use to them.

It is likely the Goa'uld have managed to learn how to engineer the technology they use from the hosts they've taken. Whether they can reproduce any is up for debate.

  • This doesn't explain how they got off the planet.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 26, 2022 at 6:29

In my view (as a writer that is only working as a programmer until her book is published but never has time to write because she is programming LOL) based on the events of the episode called "Frozen" the Ancients must have known of the Goa'uld ability to merge with the Unas and the benefits in cognitive, health and longevity of such symbiosis.

Knowing this and being decimated by a tremendous pandemic, some of them may have tried experiments with human/Goa'uld mergings. We do know that a symbiote was able to "easily" cure Jack O'Neill from the ancient virus, so why could they not do the same and even better for the ancients? Ancients with their very advanced mentalities must not have been at risk of a Goa'uld hijacking their bodies and they would have possibly been able to eject the symbiote, but what if there were one or some exceptions? What if when the Ancients discovered how to ascend and did so, in essence vacating our galaxy of human-like Ancients, some human/Goa'uld hybrids remained?

The Goa'uld rely on hosts (Unas or Human) to be able to interact with their environment outside their liquid-based breeding bases. The Ancients who were secretly affected by their symbiote, and therefore not able to ascend (this is what happened to Anubis) might have triggered the second evolution of man. They might have used the device later used to destroy the replicators, in order to have human stock to migrate to or to enslave. Once the second evolution of humans achieve a level of consciousness similar to but less than the Ancients, the human/Goa'uld mergings favored the Goa'uld mind surprising the not as advanced host.

In this scenario, you have some of the Ancient knowledge glimpsed by the symbiote - not purposely shared by the host - passed on to new generations of Goa'uld. (Their children are born with the mother's memories genetically encoded.) Therefore they would be able to subjugate the new human race and expand thru the galaxy.

This theory may sound like is way out there but consider that it is how the Atlanteans screwed up in the Pegasus galaxy by accidentally creating the Wraith by merging spider DNA with Ancient DNA!

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    Hi, welcome to SF&F. You yourself note that this is fairly speculative; do you have any evidence for your theories, like Ancients being able to accept and eject Goa'uld?
    – DavidW
    Commented Aug 30, 2022 at 17:45

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