Ancients or The Ancients, also known as Ancestors/The Ancestors, Lanteans, and Gate Builders, or Anquietas in their language, were those Alterans who left their home galaxy for the Milky Way and seeded it with life. They are one of the most advanced races known to have existed, having evolved for millions of years prior to the present day and reaching their level of technology long before humanity evolved on Earth. They are best known as the builders of the Stargates, Atlantis, and Destiny. Most of the Ancients have ascended to a higher plane of existence with near infinite knowledge and powerful abilities.
It is not known if they referred to themselves as Ancients while they were living on Earth several million years ago. It is likely that they began to use that name after their return to the Milky Way when they would have been ancient compared to the relatively young species of Humans who had populated Earth.
Over the tens of millions of years of their existence, the Ancients gradually evolved to become much more advanced than baseline humans, and the neurological makeup of the Ancients was much more complex than that of the average human. As their brains further evolved, their intelligence and capacity to store knowledge greatly increased, allowing them to develop some of the most advanced technology encountered thus far. Towards the end of their evolutionary development, but still before they ascended, they also developed various advanced mental powers including extraordinary sensory abilities, the ability to heal others with a touch, partial Telepathy, and powerful Telekinesis. The once-ascended Merlin returned to human form in the most advanced genetic state a human could reach, with the ability to sense the presence of, and activate, a Stargate and generating energy beams created with his mind. It is likely that just before an Ancient reaches ascension, this is the final evolutionary state. Some types of Ancient technology can also create this state in an unevolved human without ascending them.
Within their genetic makeup was a particular gene, the so-called Ancient Technology Activation gene, used to activate and interact with some of their more sensitive technology, like Control chairs and Puddle Jumpers. It is still unknown if the gene was naturally occurring within the Ancients' physiology, or the result of genetic manipulation.