a) Barge of a million years
The disappearance of the civilisation that lived on the planetoid in Dan O'Bannon's original script happened a million years in the past and now the contents of the pyramid had been transferred to the derelict ship as perhaps the original place where they were to be found and maybe this has turned the derelict ship into a vessel as old as its contents.
The technology of the derelict ship' becomes roughly estimated in terms of a million or millions of years by Ridley Scott.
|The derelict ship as seen in Alien|
Giger originally painted this thing as an abstract structure with arms sticking out in a roughly croissant form, like a planted growing, and when he came to give further shape to the structure as a plan for the builders, it became more abstract almost horseshoe shaped bone. Perhaps familiarity with the Solar barge where the prow and the stern are different gave a starting point for a non axial form which Giger basically came up with.
(See: Giger's derelict exterior )
c) Linking with threads of Ancient Egyptian mythos
In an attempt to see the various alien artifacts and creatures in reflection of Ancient Egyptian mythos, one might take a look at shape of the vessel before too much sense had to be made of it as a physical form, and one might compare the shape of the derelict ship generally to the Solar Barge of Ra.
The Ancient Egyptians were known to have believed that when the world came into being, there were two Rivers, the river of Egypt being the Nile and the river of the sky. that flowed through the heavens and through the Duat which was the world of the night. And on it floated the boat of Ra, known as "the Boat of a Million Years", also the"Barque of a Million years" or even the "Barque of Millions of Years", and men would call this the Manjet/Manzet Boat in the dawn, when Ra rises in on the eastern horizon of heaven; and in the evening it is called the Mesektet Boat when Ra travels across the Duat
The boat depicted in the murals would have originally been the type built from papyrus reed, although boats made by the Ancient Egyptians could be made from wood such as Khufu's funeral barge, but the original prow and stern of the papyrus reed boats have the forms of papyrus stalks bent back in curious often angular forms, and in wooden boats, these forms would have been carved out in wood accentuated by the Egyptian style of carving.
Along the Nile, mortuary temples known as "Mansions of Millions of Years" would also be found. The idea of "Millions of years" suggested the Ancient Egyptian king's urge to gain eternity in the after life. So "Millions of years" was an estimation of eternity.
Perhaps the oddity of these shapes is played upon in the formations on the arms and their strange tips of Giger's alien derelict vessel that may represent the ships engines.
d) See: Influence of the Was-sceptre on the design of the derelict's engine tip
|Bark of Ra with Sun (19th Dynasty, 1250 BC, Papyrus of Ani, British Museum)|
|King Tut on his funeral barge|
Solar barque of Djedhor - Late Period - XXVI - XXXth Dinasty - 380-343 aC - Bronze
|Khufu's funeral barge ( Source: http://www.bluffton.edu/)|
|Nun, god of the waters of chaos, lifts the barque of the sun god (https://www.pinterest.com/)|
Picture of the Sun Boat, surrounded by the giant figure of the goddess Nut "She who
protects". Ra is depicted at the front of the sun boat, crowned by the sun disk in the
company of gods who featured in the creation myth.
- Ridley Scott: and erm, why did it land and why was the pilot damaged? Because that... his cargo, something had got loose
Geoff Boucher: Right
Ridley Scott: In the cargo, had evolved and had actually taken him out, and so what could that be, and therefore like all that technology and in any technology whether it's millions of years in the past or millions of years in the future, they'll always have a distress signal, so had he set up a distress signal that ah, we in our twentieth century, twenty first century electronics had caught up , technology was a million years old, and said "gee what's that" er, "thing, we should land." Okay, that was the genesis of Alien 1
(Ridley Scott talks Prometheus with Geoff Boucher - Hero Complex Show, uploaded April 25th 2012 onto Youtube starting at 4:53 into the interview)
- Dan O'Bannon: But the planetoid was now dead and this civilisation had been gone for millions years. ( Don Shay talks with O'Bannon. Cinefex 1.p48 / Alien Special Effects p20)
- See also: Mansions of Millions of Years at http://www.ancientworlds.net
- When the world came into being, there were two rivers, the river of Egypt and the river of the sky. Great is the Nile, the river of Egypt, rising in his two caverns in the South beyond the cataract, flooding the land of Egypt and bringing joy and good harvests to Ta-mery. Great and mighty is the river of the sky, flowing across the heavens and through the Duat, the world of night and of thick darkness, and on that river floats the Boat of Ra. Boat of Millions of Years is its name, but men call it the Manzet Boat in the dawn, when Ra rises in splendour on the eastern horizon of heaven; the Mesektet Boat is it called in the evening, when Ra enters in glory within the portals of the Duat, where the mountain of Manu lifts its peaks to the western sky. On the western horizon is the mountain of Manu. and on the eastern horizon the mountain of Bakhu; vast and huge are they, raising their crests above the earth, and the sky rests upon their summits. And on the topmost peak of the mountain of Bakhu dwells a serpent; thirty cubits in length is he, and his scales are of flint and of glittering metal. He guards the mountain and the Great Green Waters, and none can pass by him save Ra in his Boat. (Ancient Egyptian Legends, by M. A. Murray,  http://www.sacred-texts.com/egy/ael/ael14.htm)