Alien: Covenant
Understanding Engineer Culture Part 1: the Temple

Understanding Engineer Culture Part 1: the Temple

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OvomorphMember13 XPAug-23-2019 8:21 AM

Hello friends! I recently discovered this very interesting forum, full of clever analyses regarding the universe of Alien, and decided to sign up to share with you my own theories about this fascinating universe we all love.

First of all, I want to say that I apologize if, coincidently, some or even all of my theories have been already pointed out by other members of this forum. In this case, please let me know.

In this topic, I want focus on the mysterious temple on Planet 4, one of the keys, in my opinion, that Ridley gave us to understand engineers' culture.

Let's start!

I remember how, the first time i saw Alien covenant in theaters, the architecture of the temple looked a bit familiar, even though i wasn't quite sure. After the home video release however, everything looked way clearer. To me, it's absolutely similar in shape to one of Rome's most visited places, the Pantheon.

The similarities don't stop here, since both seem to share the same purpose.

if some of you are not aware of what the Pantheon is and what is for, let me breafly explain:

The name Pantheon, first mentioned by the roman author Pliny the Elder, is derived from the greek Pan-theion, that we can translate as "All The Gods" (Pan = All; Theion = Gods). A better translation can also be "Temple of All The Gods". As we all know, romans had a polytheist religion, pretty similar to the ancient greeks. The interesting thing is that in the roman culture also men could reach a god-like state. This process is called Apotheosis, that we can translate "Brought to Godhood" or simply "Deified". The men that could become gods were the emperors, whose apotheosis, after their death, was actually voted by a restricted group of men, called the senate, or, more rarely, by people.

Centuries after the fall of romans, the Pantheon mantained a very similar function of deification. How? By becoming the tomb of important figures in the culture and history of Italy: Architects, like Raffaello Sanzio and Annibale Carracci, and Kings, like Umberto I, first King of Italy.

Now let's analyze the Engineer Temple.

When Daniels and the Covenant crew are brought inside by David, we can see the so called "hall of the heads", giant representations of surely important personalities for the engineers. These figures are probably the same featured in the first deleted scene of Prometheus, in which they give the pathogen cup to the sacrifical engineer. If you think about it, these elder engineers are architects themselves, just like Raffaello Sanzio. The only difference is that they didn't design buildings, they designed lifeforms.

The instrument that they used to modify and shape living creatures is the pathogen of course, the invention that probably convinced them to be gods, just like Peter Weyland after creating David (they probably even said "we are the gods now", just like our buddy Peter in TED 2023).

I'm sure that Sir Ridley, a former student of the Royal College of Art, knows Italian and European art like the palm of his hand, and I'm almost certain that he took inspiration from the Pantheon to create the engineer temple, also because, like I said earlier, the two buildings seem to have the same purpose: glorification in order to make someone appear as a god.

Again, if Ridley took total inspiration from the Pantheon, then the elder engineers' remains must be buried inside the temple and worshipped.

Inside the Pantheon. You can see some of the tombs here

This is the hall of the heads


If this theory is true, then the planet 4 Engineers worship an elite of scientists who proclamed themselves gods after the creation of a groundbreaking tool: the Pathogen, a technology that has the power to modify, heal (Shaw's infertility in Prometheus) and evolve lifeforms.

Inside the temple, the engineers also preserve all their knowledge and, probably, scientific researches conducted by the elders with the pathogen, which David used to "play god" with during his years of isolation.

That's it for now, in future topics I will gladly share my other theories with you.

Hoping to not have bored you, thanks for reading!

8 Responses to Understanding Engineer Culture Part 1: the Temple


TrilobiteMember9516 XPAug-23-2019 10:47 PM

Welcome to Scified.

Interesting and highly plausible theory.

If the heads in the hall of heads deify those they represent, is the same true of the head in the ampule/urn room on LV-223, and if so why do you theorize said engineer was deified?


ChestbursterMember902 XPAug-24-2019 12:25 AM


"These figures are probably the same featured in the first deleted scene of Prometheus", how you draw this conclusion, we are talking about a space faring civilization millions of years old and all it's important people all living at the same time? 

"Centuries after the fall of romans, the Pantheon mantained [maintained] a very similar function of deification. How? By becoming the tomb of important figures in the culture and history of Italy: Architects, like Raffaello Sanzio and Annibale Carracci, and Kings, like Umberto I, first King of Italy." There several wrong things here:

1. The Pantheon was converted in the early 7th century into a Christian church, and you know what happened in important churches they buried important people in them. But that those not mean that they would surely be with God or be worship like the dead pharaohs or the emperors of Rome. Sanctification might be closer in the Christian religion, but none of the people you mentioned are saints.

2. Annibale Carracci was a painter not an architect, did you just copy paste from Wikipedia?

3. Umberto was not the first the Italian King, Victor Emanuel II was that. Are you trying to white-wash the deeds of @$$-hole who ordered the massacre his own people and dreams of colonial grandeur?

"Inside the temple, the engineers also preserve all their knowledge", if that is true every respectable monastery from the middle ages would have contained way more knowledge.

By your conclusion, if an alien would come if he would have found a Statue of Socrates or even of Jesus he should assume that would have been rulers, not people executed in a very shameful manner.  You cannot imply a social hierarchy (or organisation) only by statues without a proper context (which is not really given).


OvomorphMember13 XPAug-24-2019 5:18 AM


Glad you appreciated my theory, I will create more topics in the future to discuss why I think that engineers' culture is based (along with "gods") also on "saints" (like the one in the ampule room). To answer your question, in my opinion the head in the ampule room is a simulacrum of the first engineer that ever had the honor to sacrifice himself with the pathogen. In general, I think that Ridley, in order to create the engineers culture, mixed lots of latin/greek and christian aspects in a very clever (and sometimes confusing) way, a thing the members of this forum probably already discussed in every detail possible.



1. That's why I said "probably", I can't be sure it's them 100% since Ridley never confirmed it (like 90% of the things in Prometheus/Covenant) but if you think about it, it can be absolutely plausible, since, at least to my eyes, they seem to be really high status (if not the highest) in the sacrifice scene of Prometheus. If we theorize that the sacrifice scene took place thousands of years before Prometheus, there's a possibility that they are dead by the time of Covenant (since the seem to be mortal just like us) and their remains are preserved inside the temple.

2. Yes, the Pantheon became a church, and like you said, only important and famous people could be buried inside, not everyone. But why? In my opinion, so that people could remember and learn from their deeds (or "ways", like David would say). Also, why placing the remains of a person in such a place, visited by millions of people every year? In my opinion, to make them "immortal". What is the main feature of a god if not immortality? Remember Peter Weyland: he wanted to meet the engineers because he tought they could make him immortal (become a god), thinking that they were real gods (thing they are not).  Of course, the people buried inside the Pantheon are not worshipped as literal "gods", but, if you think about it, they had really outstanding (god-like) abilties, like Sanzio and Carracci. That's why they were buried in such really important place. I'm sure that a today architect or painter could "worship" (admire) them as "gods"(people with outstanding talent in their disciplines) with no problem. Again, in my opinion, Ridley took inspiration from this in order to create a culture where science is a "religion", and the "gods" are the most talented scientists, so god-like in their abilities they unlocked the secrets to reshape life. Pretty similar to what happenend on our planet in 2023 with Peter Weyland, where, thanks to his corporation, android construction and insterstellar travelling became reality.

3. You're right! Sanzio was both architect and painter, Carracci only a painter. My error. Thanks for pointing it out.

4. Vittorio Emanuele II, first king of Italy, is also buried inside the Pantheon, along with his son Umberto I. While typing I was probably thinking also about the late, and published an erroneous thing. Again, thanks for pointing it out.

5. I don't think the engineer temple is  a simple monastery, more likely the most important place for their entire race. This of course doesn't exclude the construction of other religious buildings in other places (or planets). There's only one thing. If David decided, during the time he was travelling with Shaw to Planet 4, to go in that particular place, is probably because he discovered, while "learning of their ways", that the Engineer city (including the temple and the square) was the most important place for the engineers. He hates them, and wanted to destroy them all. So he attacked them in their vital spot. In future topics I'll my explain my theory also about the importance of the square in the engineer culture.

6. My theory about the engineers hierarchy is based only of what Ridley showed us in the movies. In my opinion, engineer's society, as well as their culture, is completely based on some type of "religious science". In a culture like this, the people who has scientific knowledge, also has power. This can be found also in the roman culture, where the emperor was also "Pontifex Maximus" a religious and scientific figure. the name means "The greatest bridge-maker", because he was, along with very few people, the man who preserved the secret of bridge building. So the emperor had religious ,scientific, and political power.We can find this also today, in catholic christianity, where the pope is also called pontifex, now only as honorary title. In the Engineer's culture, the few people (the elders) that know the secrets of how to reshape life using pathogen are also the rulers. In my opinion, those secrets are preserved inside the temple, and have been used by David to shape his "Wolf".

7. If an alien (of course not hostile, and with the desire to study and understand our culture) arrives on earth, looking at Socrates and Jesus, he will probably think of them as very important people for our culture, and why not rulers. By speaking with us, he could then discover that they were absolutely not rulers, but two important figures that shaped western culture .The difference is that we know almost nothing about the engineers, because the director and screenwriters of an (at least for now) incomplete trilogy decided to be very ambiguous and obscure. There's nobody, except them, who can tell us the truth. We can only make theories.


DeaconMember10416 XPAug-24-2019 8:51 AM

Firstly Welcome ;)

"incomplete trilogy decided to be very ambiguous and obscure. There's nobody, except them, who can tell us the truth. We can only make theories"

Certainly another thing is that the PLOT is something that Changes and Evolves as they move from Movie to Movie, some things seem to be kept the same though.

The Plot around the Engineers is to Loosely Incorporate Various Cultures, Mythos and Religion... as these are all Influenced by Interaction and Teachings of the Engineers, that could be Changed as they are Passed on Generation to Generation...

I will keep this First Reply Brief about your OT.

The Building has Influences of the Pantheon it also has some Influences from The Great Stupa of Sanchi

The Entrance is Influenced by the Grmec Monument from Yugoslavia

We could try and see how each of these Influences FIT by looking at WHAT there Purposes were and if that applies to the Engineers Cathedral.

Which i think you tried to do with the Pantheon.

I think to look at it in the Basic Sense, is this was a Centerpiece to the Engineers in that City.  It is a Place of Ritual Importance, certainly in Regards to the Ways of the Engineers.

It would Perform a Role as many Central Religious Buildings would, hence it was referred to as the Cathedral of the Engineers, so it has a Religious Importance as far as what ever Ritual/Culture the Engineers have that is like a Religion to them..

The Center Point does seem to be the Hall of Heads.

These are likely a Image of the Founding Fathers of their Culture and Ways...  as Chris Seagers  (Production Designer) had said these beings are the Hierarchy!

Ridley Scott referred to them as the Apostles (those who pass on/teach their Rituals/Ways). The Wise Men (indicating they are Old and Wise) and Superior Beings (Superior to who? those Planet 4 Engineers?)

They also said the Place is where those Engineers Stored their History and Knowledge, a Library of Sorts.

They could indeed be the Elders, but we cant assume they would look exactly like those from Prometheus.

There appeared to be Patterns on the Floor, in the Concepts a Fire in the Center...  the Patterns do Look a bit like some Ancient Astronomical Star Charts and with the Fire in the Center we could Consider is this a Representation of the Galaxy?

So each of these  Apostles is given a Certain Sector of the Galaxy from which to Spread the Engineers Ways?

Planet 4 was considered their Home-world, Paradise and so its likely this was a Central Meeting Point for the Hierarchy where they would ASSEMBLE to Hold Meetings.

And so the Hall of Heads Room is also likely a COUNSEL of the Elders.  Kind of like a G7 and G8 Summit we have on Earth.

R.I.P Sox  01/01/2006 - 11/10/2017


DeaconMember10416 XPSep-01-2019 10:11 PM

So to Continue....

Then indeed it could be seen that the Cathedral in Alien Covenant had Functioned like the Pantheon had done at some point in the Past (prior to Christianity).

It certainly was a Central and Important Building to the Engineers, and Certainly as far as the Founding Fathers (Hall of Heads) a place they STORE their Knowledge, and maybe their Ways/Teachings.

Potentially it could have been a Meeting Place a Counsel of Elders in the Past.

The Question and the same as the Pantheon is.... has this place become something ELSE or is it still the same as Intended?  And where are those Elders and do They (or who Now Perform the same Role as them) still come to Visit this Place from Time to Time?

Regarding the Statues in the Pantheon.... then in Context to the Engineers Citadel/Cathederal then they have the Statues of the Hall of Heads.... we HAVE-NOT seen the Full Interior as its a MASSIVE Place... so maybe there are other Statues inside?

But the Engineers Plaza does have Various Engineer Statues, these could be Important Engineers from the Past, or those who Performed Important Deeds... or maybe even in Honor of Sacrifices for their Cause of Seeding Worlds?

R.I.P Sox  01/01/2006 - 11/10/2017


DeaconMember10416 XPSep-01-2019 10:34 PM

"If we theorize that the sacrifice scene took place thousands of years before Prometheus, there's a possibility that they are dead by the time of Covenant"

I think this is something that Evolves as far as the Story!

The Engineers are MILLIONS of Years Old, According to the Original Concept...  The Sacrificial Scene i open to Interpretation, it was to SHOW us HOW they would Seed Worlds... We only saw just ONE Location and so the World could have had many Primordial Life Forms so its HARD to Gauge as to WHEN on that World this took place... it could indicate 10's of Thousands of Years, or Many Millions or even a Billion.

It is indicated the Engineers are NOT at all IMMORTAL and so its likely those from the Sacrificial Scene are DEAD. Thats IF we accept those Elders as Canon, and they are just Engineers.

The Original Concept indicates the Engineers Live for about 100'000 Years, but as of Alien Covenant we see RS had indicate those Planet 4 Engineers Live for about 150 Years.

They however claimed the Hall of Heads were Superior Beings and so what, are they NOT the same as those Engineers? So we could Only Speculate about the Hall of Heads guys and HOW Old they lived for.

What we do see is the Engineers do like to Build Things and Erect Monuments to their Achievements and so indeed they would do so to IMPORTANT persons too.

We dont really KNOW about the Engineers Death Rituals, if they Influenced Mankind then maybe they are Similar to Ours as maybe they Passed them onto us..

We dont really see any Engineer Burial Grounds.... and so maybe they Do Bury their Dead in Tombs (with Statues) a Problem is it seems there is ONLY that City, and IF those Engineers only Live for 150 years, and they had been around for Hundreds of Thousands or Millions of Years... thats a LOT of Dead... so we dont know where they Bury the Dead or what they do with the Bodies.  They could have SENT them into Space?

Certainly the Important Engineers could have Tombs, and maybe below those Statues in the Plaza are Tombs?

Also as a Ritualistic Sacrificial Culture, maybe it would be likely they would see that from Death, their Body could be used to Regenerate the World or Life....    So we cant rule out Cremation and Seeding of Ashes to the Ground in the Belief they would LIVE on as in Provide for the Flora.

Maybe when they become a Certain Age, they are Sacrificed so they can SEED/Evolve Worlds and Live on in that Creation?

R.I.P Sox  01/01/2006 - 11/10/2017


FacehuggerMember457 XPSep-02-2019 3:58 AM

Interesting to note that Ridley Scott specifically directed the concept artists to use the Grmec Monument as a basis for the temple design. Which, by some analysis, symbolises a newly breaking flower bud, representing birth brought about by sacrifice of those who fought and died there at its hospital.



DeaconMember10416 XPSep-02-2019 7:15 AM

Indeed that is Interesting...

We have to Wonder in WHAT way was this to Connect to the Engineers, we know their Ancient Culture and Creation was Connected to Sacrifice....

So maybe if we Consider that Comment, with the Giant Statues in a Buddha Offering Pose then indeed i think we can Assume that Sacrifice/Offering of their Body/Soul for the Greater Cause is something that is Fundamental in the Engineers Culture.

It also could be the Grmec Monument to the Revolution on the Doorway to the Engineers Cathedral could indicate the Sacrifices made by the Engineers Ancestors...

Thanks for the Link HOX....

It lead me to THIS SITE where Alien Explorations discus that Monument. And Finally it lead me to Discover what the Imagery on the Door was, in Concept Stage which could BACK UP the OT regarding a Tomb of Sorts.... but then there was TWO designs for the Cathedral Doors as far as ART on them, both where NOT the Same Reference Material... so maybe Neither can be looked into detail... and besides the Actual Cathedral in the Movie lacked any kind of Mural on the Entrance.

R.I.P Sox  01/01/2006 - 11/10/2017

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