Tech the Tech: The Glyphs on the Abydos Stargate

I’ve been working on a new 3D model of the stargate. For the moment, I’ve been working in parallel on the variations seen in the original movie and the SG-1 television series, since they share nearly all of the same parts.1The Atlantis stargate, while superficially similar, actually has enough unique aspects that it makes more sense for me to build a separate model based on the parts I’ve made for the movie/SG-1 version. One of the elements I’d like to recreate is that in the original movie, the stargate on the alien planet Abydos had different symbols on its inner ring than the one on Earth. I’ve never seen any listing of these alternate symbols, so I investigated the film to see what I could figure out.

NO MATTER WHERE YOU GO, THERE YOU ARE

First, let’s talk about the point of origin symbol. For the TV series Stargate SG-1, the concept of the stargate was simplified, so that rather than each stargate having a unique set of symbols on it based on the stars as seen from its particular location in the universe, every stargate used the same symbols, based on the constellations as seen from Earth, aside from one unique symbol, which represented that particular stargate itself. Finding the symbol that represented the “point of origin” was a major plot-point in the film, though it was only occasionally touched on in the series; unique point of origin symbols were designed for other stargates just twice during the entire run of the show,2The stargate in Antarctica in “Solitudes,” and the stargate on the planet where the population was living a VR simulation in “The Gamekeeper” with other planets normally having one of the regular 38 “address” symbols substituted in their place (another reason I wanted to recreate the Abydos stargate was to have a supply of plausible stargate symbols to use as point of origin symbols for alien stargates on my SG-1 gate model).

Glowing buttons with the Antarctic stargate origin symbol, a large circle over a horizontal line, and the P7J-989 origin symbol, a series of curved lines tapering to a point, similar to an icon of a tornado or vortex
The Point of Origin symbols for the Antarctic stargate (left) and the stargate on P7J-989

In SG-1, the origin symbol for the stargate used by Earth during most of the show was carried over from the film, a triangle pointing upward at a circle, representing a pyramid with the sun directly above it.3The pyramid symbol, and all the other stargate symbols, were remade from scratch for the series stargate setpieces, and don’t precisely match the symbols used in the movie in size, orientation, or proportion. The symbol for Abydos in the series was three equilateral lines extending out from a center point, with two triangles flanking the vertical line.

The Giza stargate symbol, an upward-pointing triangle with a small circle above it, and the series version of the Abydos symbol, three lines radiating from a center point with
The Point of Origin symbols for the Giza (left) and Abydos stargates as seen on Stargate SG-1

That is similar to the way the symbol was described in the film (a pyramid with the three moons of Abydos above it), but it doesn’t quite look like the drawing of the symbol we saw in the film, which consisted of two wide, stacked triangles. And, in fact, there is a symbol of two wide, stacked triangles on the Abydos stargate in the movie. So where’d the symbol used in the TV show come from?

A chalk drawing of a pyramid, with three moons above it, each connected to the others with a line, and two insets of a symbol of a pair of stacked triangles from the Abydos stargate
The pictogram of the Abydos origin symbol seen in the movie, with inserts of the corresponding symbol on the stargate
Continue reading

1 The Atlantis stargate, while superficially similar, actually has enough unique aspects that it makes more sense for me to build a separate model based on the parts I’ve made for the movie/SG-1 version.
2 The stargate in Antarctica in “Solitudes,” and the stargate on the planet where the population was living a VR simulation in “The Gamekeeper”
3 The pyramid symbol, and all the other stargate symbols, were remade from scratch for the series stargate setpieces, and don’t precisely match the symbols used in the movie in size, orientation, or proportion.