The story commences in Giza, Egypt, circa 1928, where an archaeological expedition unearths an ancient ring with cryptic hieroglyphs. The film then moves to the present day, where Egyptologist Daniel Jackson is busily trying to convince a group of skeptics that the pyramids were not built by man, but by an extraterrestrial force. After the lecture, a military man approaches him and offers him a job translating the said ring; its inscriptions actually constitute a map to a massive stargate (or interstellar portal). The army sends over resident crackpot colonel Jack O'Neill to travel through the stargate and see what's on the other side; Jackson accompanies him, and the two men turn up in a desert planet on the other side of the universe, with three moons in its sky. The world in question is ruled by Ra, a hermaphroditic Egyptian sun god, who oppresses hordes of slave workers. Jackson and O'Neill then join forces to help the said workers revolt against their oppressor.