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"Massive statues looked as though they had once supported the roof. Now there was no roof, and the statues broken and lay down on the ground. A large stone eye gave me a hostile stare."
Padmé Amidala, on the ruins of the Elders[src]

The "Elders" was a name used to describe a species of spacefaring aliens that first colonized the planet of Naboo in the Mid Rim Territories, several millennia before the Grizmalltian Humans. A Force-sensitive people, the Elders used to build temples and monuments, which were scattered throughout the Nabooian landscape. At least a few similar ruins were also found on the moon Rori. Upon their arrival, the Elders clashed with the Gungans, a race of amphibious humanoids native to Naboo.

Both Gungan and Human Naboo scientists agreed that the end of the Elder civilization may have been the result of the Elders' negligence toward their environment. Others have suggested that the Elders were forced to vacate Naboo after a natural disaster or an invasion. Centuries after the fall of the Elders, archaeologists were divided as to whether the statues were giant representations of the vanished species or monumental portraits of their gods. In the last decades of the Galactic Republic, the crumbling remnants of the Elders had become objects of worship to the Gungans, who thought the sculptures depicted their own deities and sought refuge among them in times of trouble.

Biology and appearance[]

The Elders' statues hint at a humanoid lifeform.

The vanished species who colonized the planet of Naboo in the Mid Rim and passed to posterity under the name of "Elders" were shrouded in mystery. Very little was certain about them, and academic theories pertaining to those beings were mainly based on their architectural relics.[2] While some archaeologists theorized that the stone colossi the Elders left were icons devoted to their deities, others suggest they were indeed a depiction of the Elders themselves. If the latter theory was true, the Elders were very similar to Humans, with an egg-shaped head, two forward-facing eyes, a mildly protruding nose bearing two nostrils, and a mouth with fleshy lips. Their auricles, if they had any, were concealed by pieces of headgear. Still going by that theory[1] and judging by other remains of their stone statues, the Elders had a torso and limbs[3] ending in fingers,[4] which further implied a fairly humanoid body structure.[4]

The eyes of the colossi appeared to be closed, as if the figures they depicted were asleep or meditating. Their forehead featured a ring-shaped motif, perhaps a stylized third eye. Based on the meditative stance of the stone heads, the archaeologists deduced that the Elders knew of the Force—a mystical energy field that gave powers to those who could use it[5]—and considered it sacred.[2] The appearance of the Elder statues resemble that of another ancient idol worshipped by the Order of Dai Bendu in the Andobi Mountains of Ando Prime.[6] In both cases, the statues portrayed humanoids with closed eyes and thick lips.[2][6]

On the Elders' humanoid looks,[2] it should be noted that the native Gungans remained unfazed when the putative first Human colonists landed on Naboo many centuries after the Elders' departure, which suggest that they had seen Humans before. Millennia later, explorers considered that previous visits to Naboo had indeed existed, although they could find no trace of such landings or any official record at all.[7]

Society and culture[]

The Elders arrived on Naboo from another world, which requires space travel. That means they had reached space-level, which was considered to be the final stage of technological development of any civilization.[8] A people of builders, the Elders erected many temples[1] containing archways, columns, and massive statues that supported the roofs.[9] The distribution of those ruins suggested that the Elders lived mainly in swampy areas.[1]

Their colossi typically depicted meditating,[2] if somewhat awe-inducing,[9] individuals wearing headgears in the shape of a truncated cone.[2] Occasionally, some were portrayed clutching weapons and staring vacantly into space.[3] Based on the speculations of scientists,[2] the Elders may have been among the first civilizations to have conducted a rudimentary study of the Force,[2] before the birth of the Je'daii Order on Tython[10] in 36,453 BBY.[11]


The Elders colonized the planet Naboo and its moon Rori in ancient times.

The Elders were not indigenous to Naboo, a planet on the outer edge of the Mid Rim, but they were its first recorded external visitors. They set foot on their new homeworld in ancient times, while the planet's initially molten core was slowly cooling down until it became solid.[2] It happened, in any event, millennia before a group of Humans[12] from the Core World of Grizmallt.[13] colonized Naboo.[12] According to tradition, the Elders engaged in warfare with the indigenous Gungans, a race of amphibious sentients.[12] Despite the rivalry, the Elders' civilization flourished on Naboo for nearly two thousands of years. As time went by, they built many temples and statues all around the Nabooian countryside.[1] Judging by the similar monuments and colossi that stood on Rori, one of the three moons orbiting Naboo, the Elders also established their presence there.[14]

The Elders eventually vacated their adopted homeworld.[12] According to several Gungan and Naboo chroniclers, the disappearance of the Elders could be attributed to their greed and blatant disrespect of the planet's ecological harmony.[1] Others theorize that Elders relocated some place else in the galaxy when forced to do so by an undetermined catastrophe, either a a natural disaster or an alien onslaught.[2] In the last centuries of the Galactic Republic, all that remained of the Elders were massive heads and limbs of stone scattered across Naboo's surface. The archaeologists, however, disagreed on the interpretation of those artifacts: they were unsure if those effigies were representations of the vanished race themselves or giant portraits of their deities.[1]

Thousands of years after the Elders' disappearance, the Gungans held their ruins as sacred.

In any case, millennia after the Elders' mysterious vanishing, the Gungans used their ruins as places of worship, especially the Sacred Place, an abandoned sanctuary hidden in the foothills of the Gallo Mountains.[1] When the Gungan city of Otoh Sancture was razed[15] in 3000 BBY,[16] its leader Boss Gallo chose to rebuild it in the shadow of a few Elder monuments.[15] Other such ruins included the Gungan Caves,[17] the Lianorm Raceway Podracing course,[18] and what became Rish Loo's secret laboratory around 21 BBY.[19] Despite having fought them in the past, they also considered the Elders' effigies as depictions of their guds—a Gungan word for gods.[20] For example, a certain statue overlooking a waterfall was assimilated to Dobbis,[21] goddess of the rain,[22] and another to Big Maxiboss Gurunda.[21] When the ten-year-old, homesick Human Anakin Skywalker first saw the Sacred Place, he mistakenly identified such colossal remains as "giant Gungan heads carved out of stone," despite the striking phenotypical differences between the Gungans and the sculptures.[23] On the same occasion, Padmé Amidala, the Queen of the Nabooian Humans, found the Elders' statuary eerie and unnerving.[9]

Behind the scenes[]

Early concept art showing a head statue on Tatooine

Although the giant stone heads built by the Elders first appeared on Naboo in the 1999 movie Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace,[24] they were originally conceived as part of the Tatooinian landscape. Early concept art from 1996 show an eopie and its rider walking in the sand of Tatooine with a head statue in the background.[25] The Elder heads shown in the movie were crafted in the Industrial Light & Magic model shop by Concept Sculptor Mark Siegel.[26]

Whereas The New Essential Guide to Alien Species has the Gungans driving the Elders off of Naboo in 100 BBY,[27] the newer reference book The Essential Atlas places the end of their civilization in 5,032 BBY.[12]



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Notes and references[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 Inside the Worlds of Star Wars: Episode I
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 The Official Star Wars Fact File 59 (NAB23–24, Naboo - Gungan Sacred Place)
  3. 3.0 3.1 Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace novelization
  4. 4.0 4.1 Alien Encounters
  5. A Guide to the Star Wars Universe, Second Edition, Revised and Expanded
  6. 6.0 6.1 Star Wars Episode I: Racer (PC version)
  7. Knights of the Old Republic Campaign Guide
  8. Galaxy Guide 6: Tramp Freighters, First Edition
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Star Wars Episode I Journal: Queen Amidala
  10. Dawn of the Jedi: Force Storm 1
  11. Manning, Shaun: NYCC EXCLUSIVE: Ostrander and Duursema Unveil "Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi" (2011-10-13, 1:52 pm PDT). Comic Book Resources. comicbookresources.com. Archived from the original on August 17, 2020.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 The Essential Atlas
  13. The New Essential Chronology
  14. Star Wars Galaxies
  15. 15.0 15.1 Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds
  16. The Essential Atlas places the Gungan war, in which Otoh Sancture was destroyed, at this time.
  17. Star Wars: Yoda's Challenge Activity Center
  18. Racer Rush
  19. TCW mini logo.jpg Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Shadow Warrior"
  20. The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia, Vol. I, p. 376 ("Gungan sacred place")
  21. 21.0 21.1 Episode I Adventures 11: Pirates from Beyond the Sea
  22. Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds (French edition)
  23. Star Wars Episode I Journal: Anakin Skywalker
  24. Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace
  25. Star Wars: Episode I Insider's Guide
  26. StarWars.com Episode I Snapshot: Mark Siegel on StarWars.com (content now obsolete; backup link)
  27. The New Essential Guide to Alien Species
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