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And to think, such an Advanced Ancient Acropolis was spawned from some cavemen with pointy stick's studies of a strange humming rock.

To quote the main article, Bamboo Technology covers "the use of mechanisms with a level of technology closer to the Stone Age to achieve feats usually achieved with Industrial or even Modern Age technology."

Sufficiently Advanced Bamboo Technology, on the other hand, covers mechanisms with a Stone Age (or other ancient period, like Bronze Age, Iron Age, Medieval Period, etc...) appearance but a High Tech function that is beyond the achievements of Industrial or Modern Age technology: primitive-looking but highly advanced technology. Like the Stone Age equivalent of Crystal Spires and Togas, this is very often used to illustrate how advanced a culture's technology is by making it blend in almost seamlessly with their environment and/or architecture.

Ancient Astronauts and Precursors have the interesting habit of building their technology to look like primitive artifacts. This is distinguished from classic Bamboo Technology in function but not in form. In this case, apparently primitive constructs are actually technologically advanced devices. A shield generator or ancient superweapon may resemble a monument, or idol. Rock faces will hide glowing energy conduits. Crystals can do anything from teleportation of people and objects to enhancing latent psychic powers. Stone tablets with primitive carvings contain hidden machinery, or Nanotechnology, or some other Applied Phlebotinum. Ancient control centers and consoles will resemble temples and altars. In many cases, the technology is designed to mimic the appearance of Magitek, but is actually Applied Phlebotinum. Usually the aliens in this first variation are either Precursors, Ancient Astronauts, or both, and inhabit the higher end of the Kardashev Scale, but there are exceptions. Though being "Sufficiently Advanced" is usually a characteristic of the makers of such technology, it's not required: Higher-Tech Species are known to adopt this style as well. Civilizations at the Crystal Spires and Togas level are very likely to use this kind of technology, often subtly blended in with their surroundings or appearing decorative. The Artifact of Doom or the MacGuffin in a Sci-Fi setting, if of alien or other fantastic origin, is usually an example of this technology. Many a Power Crystal and Mineral MacGuffin are examples as well. The more ancient Lost Technology is, the more likely it will be an example of this trope.

Often, you will know when this sort of technology is working because Power Glows. Also note that many of the examples involve some form of psionic crystal, or are combined with psionic powers. Many an Advanced Ancient Acropolis is filled with such devices.

Compare: Insufficiently Advanced Alien; Low Culture, High Tech; Aliens Never Invented the Wheel; Crystal Spires and Togas; Higher-Tech Species.

Examples of Sufficiently Advanced Bamboo Technology include:



  • High Crystal by Martin Caidin. Steve Austin tries to find a mysterious crystal. It's a power source left on Earth by space aliens.

Live Action Television

  • Abused in the Stargate verse, mostly by the Ancients.
    • The titular Stargate itself being an example: an ancient stone ring unearthed in Egypt that opens wormholes to other planets.
    • Goa'uld staff weapons are another common example in the Stargate verse.
    • Even the Goa'uld warships look like pyramids.
    • The Nox and their technology (they are Sufficiently Advanced Aliens who try to appear as primitives) also follow this trope closely.
  • Several episodes of Star Trek:
    • "The Apple," in which an ancient supercomputer that controls a planet's primitive population is built to look like a Snake-headed giant stone idol.
    • The Preservers built an obelisk on a planet inhabited by transplanted Native Americans. It turned out to be a voice-activated asteroid-deflector.
    • In the original pilot and "The Menagerie," the Talosians use this sort of technology, including an elevator hidden in a rockface which leads to an advanced underground layer, and a viewscreen embedded in rock shows up in the episode as well. However, though their technology is impressive, the Talosians have forgotten how to maintain it and now rely primarily on their psionic powers for survival.
    • The Guardian of Forever in "City on the Edge of Forever" resembles a donut-shaped stone slab, but it is actually a powerful device capable of Time Travel. It's also sentient, and claims to be extremely ancient, and neither a machine nor alive. It also comes with an Advanced Ancient Acropolis in the background.
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Ancient Vulcans constructed the Stone of Gol, a psionic resonator superweapon; it resembles a primitive stone artifact.
    • The Tox Uthat is another superweapon, a device constructed in the 27th century and hidden in the past that is capable of stopping all nuclear fusion inside a star. It looks like a palm-sized crystal artifact.
    • The remains of the Tkon Empire's outpost Portal 73, in the episode "The Last Outpost," was a perfect example of this aesthetic, complete with Stone Henge-like rock formations, Power Crystals, and Huge Holographic Head.
  • Blake's 7: Sinofar and Jiroc, representatives of a long-dead civilization, appeared to use a combination of this and psionic powers to interfere with a battle in space and teleport selected combatants to a ritual battleground.
    • The Seska on planet Xenon implanted psionic Dynamon Crystals in their necks through a kind of surgery, granting themselves telekinetic superpowers.
  • The reimagined Battlestar Galactica subverted this with the Arrow of Apollo (it didn't actually appear to have any special properties).
    • Played straight with ancient technology on Kobol in both the old series (technology inside pyramids that interacted with Adama's legacy disco medallion) and the new one (a planetarium show on Kobol projected inside the Tomb of Athena, a cave with an entrance disguised like a rockface).
  • Land of the Lost
    • The Pylons and Matrix Tables in the original series (and the rest of Altrusian technology, too, as well as the technology of the mysterious "Builders"). Since the Land itself was implied to have been constructed, the various colored crystals (psionic and otherwise -- they have different properties depending on their color) also count. The Sleestaks and the Marshalls, on the other hand, used actual Bamboo Technology.
    • In the Nineties version, Shung's psionic crystal sword, as well as some other ancient technology encountered by the Porters. Similar to the original, the (possibly artificial) title "Land" contains deposits of powerful crystals that act as batteries, among other useful purposes.
  • Farscape: When the ancient Hynerians stranded the Acquarans on their jungle planet, they designed the device that produced the anti-technology force field on the planet to like like a primitive stone statue of a royal Hynerian. From the Acquarans' perspective, the ancient Hynerians were Precursors, despite not being "sufficiently advanced" themselves.
    • The Darnaz Probes from "What Was Lost" Parts 1 and 2 are another example of powerful ancient technology designed to look like archaeological artifacts. Their purpose was to make the planet Arnessk, home to peace-engendering Eidelon priests, uninhabitable. It's never revealed who sent them, they are only referred to as "enemies of peace," but it's implied that they were the ancient ancestors of the Scarrans. The time-shifted Temple may count as this too, it's not clear how the priests of Arnessk accomplished that one, whether with technology or psionics.
    • D'argo's Qualta Blade is a marginal example of this trope. It's a powerful sword that transforms into an energy rifle more powerful than a Peacekeeper Pulse Rifle. It actually is ancient- it's been passed down through generations of D'argo's ancestors. Reinforced by the later appearance of Lo'laa, an ancient Luxan warship, which hinted that, contrary to their modern perception as "barbarians," Luxans may have been a Higher-Tech Species in the past.
  • Babylon 5: The Minbari are generally the ones to disguise their technology as simple glass rings (in "The Gathering" pilot movie), crystals (a lot of their tech), stone constructs (the ancient Wheel of Fire), etc. Even the interiors of their starships look a bit like really shiny alien cathedrals, and the control centers of their major warships, the Sharlin-class warcruisers, resemble black voids with surreal levitating stones above a lighted circle where the command crew stands and observes the battle, which is projected holographically around them. The Minbari (or at least the religious caste) are obsessed with tradition, so this is in keeping with their on-screen portrayal. They are also a deceptive people who "never tell anyone the whole truth," so the fact that a lot of their technology is "hidden" from plain sight like this makes sense.
    • From the same series, the Triluminaries, which although used by Minbari are not originally Minbari tech (they were given them by Valen, a "Minbari not born of Minbari," actually Jefferey Sinclair, arrived back in time from the future, with technology created by the same people who created the Great Machine on Epsilon 3). Despite their origin and abilities, they had a rather primitive look, not unlike Enik's Altrusian technology from the original Land of the Lost (see above).
    • The organic technology that a scientist brought aboard in a first season episode at first resembled some kind of ancient artifact before it began assimilating the scientist's assistant into a Living Weapon.
    • Several other ancient races on various episodes of its Spin-Off, Crusade.
    • The Shadows and Vorlons, however, generally averted this trope, as they used living technology and Living Ships.
  • An ancient Alien spacecraft discovered buried under an African beach on The X-Files appeared to be made out of stone and covered in ancient writing.
  • The Frozen Wheel from Lost: It looks Stone Age, but turning it manipulates space-time and teleports you to Tunisia.
  • The Shiba clan of Samurai Sentai Shinkenger runs on Sufficiently Advanced Edo-punk technology. What elevates it to this level is little details like the Shinkenger's Edo era fore bearers having the same Transformation Trinket that their modern counterparts do... a cellphone that becomes a calligraphy brush. Their mentor, Ji, even has one that appears to be made of bamboo.
  • All of the Artefacts of Rassilon in Doctor Who. Deconstructed as later generations of Time Lords had no idea how to work these technologies and heavily stagnated as a result.

Tabletop Games

  • One of the example NPCs in Genius: The Transgression is a genius from an alternative timeline where metalergy never appeared. As a result, all her wonders have a stone age aesthetic. Players can also create characters like this, since the rules pretty much state that they can use any style they want.

Web Original:

  • In Orion's Arm, "clarktech" objects (technology invented by the Archai, which are so advanced that only planet-sized Artificial Intelligences can understand how they work) often look deceptively ordinary. For example, the dittocube looks like a child's wooden toy block.
  • Parodied in the Flash-animated series Stone Trek, which is an odd fusion of Flintstones and Star Trek. Their stoneship is made of rock and wood, and their reactor core is a portable volcano.

Western Animation

  • The Artifacts of the Primes in Transformers Prime. They're capable of drawing power from the aether, restructuring matter on a molecular level, bestowing immense cosmic power onto Cybertronians and they were all built during Cybertron's prehistory.