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Sufficiently Advanced Bamboo Technology

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Riker: I've seen these things all over the ship. They all look the same: primitive, and... non-functional.
Picard: Ceremonial; and deceptively primitive.

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, ancient godlike computer, or powerful superweapon may resemble a monument, or idol, a small handheld artifact. Rock faces will hide glowing energy conduits. Crystals can do anything from teleporting people and objects to enhancing latent psychic powers. Carved stone tablets 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 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 blending it in with their surroundings or by making it appear 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 are filled with such devices.

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


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The exorcist ninja Magitek of Ayakashi Triangle has an ancient Japanese aesthetic even when it's more advanced than modern regular technology. For instance, Reo has a fully mobile training robot that's made almost entirely of wood and gears. Matsuri's battle suit looks like a stereotypical ninja outfit with a chainmail mesh but also has air-conditioning and a cloaking device.
  • Tenchi Muyo!: The Jurai Empire is one of the most advanced civilizations in the universe, yet their ships are largely made of wood. Justified by the fact that a lot of their power comes from divine trees created by their goddess Tsunami.

    Comic Books 
  • Marvel Comics: The country of Wakanda has advanced technology, some of which outpaces the rest of the world, but publicly wielded tools are intentionally designed to match the traditional African style of Wakandan ancestors.
  • Wonder Woman: Paradise Island (Pre-Crisis) had advanced technology, magic, and magitek far outpacing the outside world but stuck to an Ancient Greek aesthetic. The Amazons developed an invisible plane, mental radio, and purple rays and used casual scrying devices to keep up to date on developments in the outside world but wore togas, used archery as a pastime, and built their buildings in the ancient Greek style.

    Comic Strips 
  • One of the many images in The Far Side featuring cavemen showed two of them inventing a "Time Log" which could also fly, and which they used to travel to the modern day to gawk at the future.
  • Calvin and Hobbes' treasured cardboard box could be used (depending on its orientation) to transmogrify any creature into any other, duplicate a living thing, or even travel in time. Of course, these advances may have been all in Calvin's imagination...

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The tiny alien humanoids of the worldship Rheton in the early '60s B-Movie The Phantom Planet write on stone tablets and control their hollow asteroid worldship with theremin-like pools of water in dishes.
  • The Stonehenge-like teleportation arcs in the Italian B-Movie Cosmos: War of the Planets.
  • Hellraiser: The Lament Configuration is a puzzle-box artifact that opens an extradimensional gateway.
  • In the Italian B-Movie Cave Dwellers, whatever plot there is revolves around an advanced device that looks like a crystal rock but is really some kind of early nuclear weapon.
  • Stargate has alien technology with an ancient Egyptian aesthetic.
  • The Stones from The Fifth Element were primitive-looking artifacts of presumably alien origin that, combined with the titular fifth element at an ancient temple site, produced a superweapon capable of defeating the Ultimate Evil.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Most Asgardian technology looks like Viking-era equipment despite being Sufficiently Advanced.
    • Wakandan technology as a whole in Black Panther. Wakandans prefer basic melee weapons with ultra-tech refinements; the Dora Milaje use vibranium-enhanced spears that can pierce any mundane armor and send opponents flying when smacked with the blunt end, the Border Tribe uses similar vibranium-enhanced sickles and cloaks that project Deflector Shields. No wonder Okoye sneers at chemical slugthrowers firearms as "primitive" and Klaue is giddy when he tells Ross that his car-smashing Arm Cannon is just a re-purposed mining tool; the Wakandans have weapons that make it look like a leaf blower.

  • High Crystal by Martin Caidin. Steve Austin tries to find a mysterious crystal. It's a power source left on Earth by space aliens.
  • Most of H. P. Lovecraft's Old Ones from the Cthulhu Mythos use this: they live (or used to) in cyclopean cities, sometimes filled with columns, the inhabitants they are incomprehensible and so are their designs. However, it's hinted their technology is so advanced, humans can barely understand it.
  • Justified and explained in detail in Divine Blood Novels. Each one of the races has the power to enchant magical artifacts, and magic is just a type of technology. And each race happens to have a material that is easiest to enchant. Dwarves can use bronze, so all their magical artifacts are made of bronze. Gods can enhance trees, so all their technology is tree-oriented. Humans can enchant crystals, so human artifacts are crystal oriented. This leads to situations like a God having a wooden shield that works as a force field.
  • In Afternoon of the Elves, Sara-Kate scolds Hillary for assuming that the elves' Bamboo Technology is primitive and childlike. (Specifically, when Hillary assumes a pan of water with leaves floating in it must be a swimming pool with sunning floats, Sara-Kate points out it could be a magical solar energy collector for all she knows.)
  • In Mikhail Akhmanov's Arrivals from the Dark books, the Lo'ona Aeo are masters of miniaturization, capable of building complex and highly advanced devices and shaping them as an ordinary trinket, such as a glass figurine or a necklace. They also build fail-safes into all their tech to prevent it from being reverse-engineered and/or misused.
  • Alien in a Bottle involves a teenage glassblower mistaking a fallen spaceship for a shooting star and finding a glass bottle with no label or opening on the beach. Said bottle is the fallen spaceship, both bigger on the inside and capable of using the same system it uses for FTL travel to give that glassblower a direct window to the sun to shape glass with.
  • Lilith's Brood: The alien Oankali's Organic Technology tends to look as little like technology as possible. One human visitor needs to be clued in that a village of primitive-looking huts is actually one living, intelligent organism that handles all utilities and long-distance communication and can grow into a spaceship if the need arises.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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.
    • Centauri technology has aesthetics that are heavily reminiscent of the ancient Roman Empire as well as pre-Revolutionary France. Though their devices look gaudy and out of place alongside utilitarian-looking Human technology, it is actually far more advanced. Although much reduced in power by the time humans have entered the galactic community, the Centauri Republic is actually one of the most technologically advanced Younger Races in the setting, second only to the Minbari.
    • 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 Jeffrey 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.
    • 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. In an implied inversion of this trope, several characters, however, noted that the Vorlons sometimes use more primitive technology to hide how advanced they really are.
    • At least one of the First Ones travels in a starship that resembles nothing so much as a cluster of large stones. with light emanating from the joints. It is powerful enough to swat Vorlon and Shadow warships like flies.
  • In the original (70's) Battlestar Galactica the people of Kobol, the ancestral planet of humanity, were super-advanced, as evidenced by their ultra-tech pyramids and medallions.
  • Battlestar Galactica: 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 rock face). Subverted this with the Arrow of Apollo: it didn't actually appear to have any special properties, being really just a museum artifact.
  • 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.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Doctor's iconic TARDIS, an intelligent time-travelling spaceship that is Bigger on the Inside, always looks like a blue police box since its chameleon circuit was damaged.
    • Some other Time Lord technology seems to be similarly deceptively primitive-looking, such as the Moment, a superweapon which looks like a wooden puzzle box; the Prime Eye of Harmony, a simple stone obelisk that's really a reality-warping energy source made from a black hole; and the Matrix, an artificial afterlife of sorts that the Doctor described as "a giant computer made of stone and ghosts", which is not far off the mark.
    • In "Pyramids of Mars", Osiran technology looks like ancient Egyptian paraphernalia but includes devices like robots and teleporters that work between Earth and Mars.
    • When Leela needed to refresh herself by going swimming and it was revealed the Tardis has an Olympic-sized swimming pool on board, the Doctor has to find her by descending quite a lot of flights of stairs. Inferentially, there are no lifts on the Tardis; but more interestingly, the walls and the stairwells Tom Baker descends are made of that most futuristic and space-age of building materials: bricks. There are so many descending staircases that you could roughly estimate that the Tardis carries at least four thousand tons of bricks as part of its payload.
  • Farscape:
    • When the ancient Hynerians stranded their Acquaran subjects on their jungle planet, they designed the device that produced the anti-technology force field on the planet to look 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.
    • The Aquarrans are an interesting case, as they are in fact aware that they themselves were once an advanced spacefaring people (and in fact were as technologically advanced as any others in that part of the galaxy). Unfortunately, the knowledge of their history was deliberately repressed by their priests to elevate themselves to a position of power in their society.
  • Land of the Lost (1974):
    • 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 the Porter family uses as batteries, among other purposes.
  • 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 forebearers 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.
  • The fantastic world of Spellbinder has plenty of Medieval-looking high-tech equipment, one of which doubles as an ad-hoc cross-dimensional portal. Many of them are Lost Technology.
  • Stargate: The Ancients are responsible for this trope.
    • The titular Stargate itself being an example: an ancient stone, actually nigh-indestructible Applied Phlebotinum, ring unearthed in Egypt that opens wormholes to other planets.
    • The pyramids of Giza were landing pads for Goa'uld motherships.
    • The Nox appear to live in wooden huts in the woods, but just before kicking SG-1 off their planet they allow them to see their invisible flying city.
  • Several episodes of Star Trek:
    • "The Cage" (Pilot) and The Menagerie (S1E15/16): The Talosians use this sort of technology, including an elevator hidden in a rock face which leads to an advanced underground layer, and a viewscreen embedded in rock (probably an attempt to convey a flatscreen-like device) shows up in the episode as well. However, though their technology is impressive, the Talosians, who are all weakened survivors of an ancient nuclear war, have forgotten how to maintain it and now rely primarily on their psionic powers for survival.
    • "The City on the Edge of Forever" (S1E28): The Guardian of Forever resembles a doughnut-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 living being; and yet both. It (along with the rest of the planet) apparently exists outside of time, as anyone nearby will be unaffected by even the most radical alterations to the timeline. It also comes with an Advanced Ancient Acropolis in the background.
    • "The Apple" (S2E09): An ancient supercomputer that controls a planet's primitive population is built to look like a serpent-headed giant stone idol.
    • "The Paradise Syndrome" (S3E03): The Preservers built an obelisk on a planet inhabited by transplanted Native Americans. It turned out to be a voice-activated asteroid-deflector.
    • "Errand of Mercy" The Organians appear to be technologically backward but this is because they are actually incorporeal energy beings and everything on the planet is just props to help them more easily interact with corporeal creatures
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
    • The Last Outpost (S1E05): The remains of the Tkon Empire's outpost Portal 73 was a perfect example of a deceptively primitive appearance, complete with Stonehenge-like rock formations, Power Crystals...and a Huge Holographic Head.
    • Captain's Holiday (S3E19): The Tox Uthat, a device constructed in the 27th century and hidden in the past due to its potential use as a weapon of mass destruction, is capable of stopping all nuclear fusion inside a star. It looks like a palm-sized crystal artifact.
    • Gambit (S7E04/05): The ancient Vulcans constructed the Stone of Gol, a psionic resonator superweapon; it resembles a primitive stone artifact adorned by hieroglyphics and images of the ancient Vulcan pantheon.
    • Masks (S7E17): The ancient D'Arsay archive possesses the technology for the complete molecular restructuring of both living and non-living matter, but uses this capability to begin remaking the Enterprise into something resembling an ancient Mesoamerican temple and/or city, in line with the aesthetic of its vanished society.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
    • "Time's Orphan" (S6E24): The ancient time portal on the planet Golana.
    • The Orbs of the Prophets, ancient crystalline devices given to the Bajorans by the advanced Wormhole Aliens.
  • Star Trek: Voyager:
    • "The Q and the Grey": The weapons used by the Q look like Civil War-era firearms, but are in fact so powerful that the kickback alone can destroy entire star systems in neighboring dimensions.
      • The weapons only appear like Civil War-era firearms because the Q Continuum can only be perceived by humanoids in an allegorical or metaphorical sense; it cannot be perceived directly. The weapons look like Civil War weapons because Q has chosen to present the situation of the dissolution of the Continuum as 'like the Civil War'. He could have chosen a different analogy.
  • 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.

  • According to Pepe Deluxé's Queen of the Wave, the ancient Atlanteans had access to technology including interplanetary travel, iron automatons, Anti Matter lights, airships, aerial water generators, television, and astral projection. It's speculated in one of the online-exclusive album supplements that ancient atomic weapons may have been what destroyed Atlantis.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Green and White factions of New Phyrexia in Magic: The Gathering. While both old Phyrexia and the new Blue, Black and Red factions make use of obvious metal, the Green faction as a whole is exceptionally organic (big surprise), and the White faction makes use primarily of a porcelain-like metal, which makes them look more as if covered by and making use of things made of bone. Of course, the distinction between metals and natural materials is not very obvious to a civilization composed entirely of Body Horror along those lines.
  • One of the example NPCs in Genius: The Transgression is a genius from an alternative timeline where metallurgy never appeared. As a result, all her wonders have a stone age aesthetic. Similarly, a member of the Time Police is a Maori from before the days of colonization who navigates history on his time canoe. Players can also create characters like this since the rules pretty much state that they can use any style they want.
  • Some of the Lizardmen/Slann items and even buildings in Warhammer Fantasy Battle are this. They look like primitive Aztec-style stone carvings or monuments but are actually the relics of a super-technological galaxy-spanning race "the Old Ones" who were forced to abandon their colony after a catastrophic failure of their warp-gates (that flooded the Warhammer world with Chaos).
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • A lot of Eldar and Necron technology is of this nature. Eldar technology tends to resemble exquisitely carved bone, rendered in flowing organic shapes and studded with gemstones. High-ranking Eldar seers carry decorative spears, wear ribbed bone breastplates and cast bone runes from leather pouches. The "bone" in question is actually a highly advanced psycho-plastic substance called Wraithbone and is shaped by the Eldar's formidable mental powers. The Dark Eldar use a similarly organic aesthetic, but with even weirder and much nastier devices at their disposal. Many of their most exotic weapons look like objects out of a fairy-tale, such as mirrors that shatter the individual reflected in them when they break, or caskets of malicious flesh-eating sprites.
    • The Necrons, meanwhile, use architecture of black stone and use glowing green crystals, hypothetically even in technical buildings that stave off metaphysical influences. Their vehicles look like Egyptian boats, except that they hover, and numerous heavy-and-upwards vehicles look like pyramids. They also use such wonders as Resurrection Orbs (a glowing crystal sphere that enhances the repair protocols of the Necron Warriors), Sempiternal Weave (a highly advanced force field that looks like a scale-mail cloak), and various weaponised staves.
    • The more esoteric items of Imperial technology tend to look much less advanced to modern eyes than they are, frequently having a Medieval, Renaissance, or Victorian (steampunk) aesthetic, with many time-stopping Stasis Grenades resembling nothing so much as a 19th-century carriage clock. The weapon on the front of the Dark Angels' Nephilim Attack Fighter has the physical form of a stained-glass window, and its stasis bomb looks like a giant glowing hourglass. The more elaborate Imperial storm shields tend to look like highly decorated metal shields that would not have been out of place in the Classical or Medieval world. Their war ships even look like spaceborne Gothic cathedrals, only with an armored ram on the prow, engines on the back, and weapons sticking out the sides.
    • Orks also have a variant of this trope, where much of their ramshackle technology from guns, to vehicles and buildings, up to their spaceships, is rickety and obviously made from scavenged parts welded or bolted together, or looted from other factions and have become poorly maintained and made to look more "orky". Much Ork technical aesthetic looks like it could be from a Diesel Punk Scavenger World, but they still work perfectly well (in most cases). Because their Mekboys and Dokboys have technical knowledge hardwired into their DNA, as well as trial-and-error, experimentation, and their gestalt psychic field which makes their technology work as well as it does, their technology at its peak is noted for being more advanced than Imperial tech. Fortunately for everybody else, Orks rarely tend to get there, since most of their faculties and facilities are devoted to making lower tech, and much of their high technology doesn't get passed between them too much.
    • The Kroot are avian-descended aliens who act like Stone Age barbarians, serving the role of melee troops for the Tau Empire. They're also capable of spaceflight via their Warspheres, massive mobile space stations that can actually land and take off from planets and go through the Warp.

    Video Games 
  • In perhaps the most literal instance of this trope, a character in Ōkami takes off in a space ship made of actual bamboo.
  • The Xel'Naga from StarCraft appear to have this. The few Xel'Naga artifacts encountered in the games are crystals and stone temples.
  • A lot of Chozo tech in the Metroid series looks like this. Chozo made a point of building their technology in harmony with nature, rather than against it. A lot of it appears to be stone or simple metalwork... and then the statues come to life and begin shooting high-powered laser blasts and you realize just how advanced they were. Then you remember Samus's Powered Armor is a Chozo creation that the very technology-oriented Space Pirates failed numerous times to replicate.
  • Zig-zagged in the Halo series with Forerunner artifacts. While they by and large have a futuristic brushed metal aesthetic, they will sometimes also appear to be made of stone. This is most apparent on Installation 05, featured in Halo 2. It's worth noting, however, that the 10th anniversary remake altered the appearance of 2's Forerunner structures to a much more futuristic appearance.
  • Some of the Ancients' technology in Might and Magic looked like this, the main example being a pyramid that was the part of a Generation Ship that had been preserved after landfall. Among other things, it has radiation-curing pools of water and vital command codes recorded on seemingly ordinary paper that has lasted for over a millennia.
  • Assassin's Creed: The technology left behind by The Ones Who Came Before is often futuristic in appearance, but is equally likely to appear as a crystal ball, a staff, a sword, or glowy stone carvings. In some cases, this was deliberate on their part, as they were attempting to Fling a Light into the Future and designed their technology to be recognizable and usable by future humans.
  • The neolithic-looking Nordic ruins from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim mostly have just plain old Bamboo Technology but occasionally houses powerful artifacts like the Eye Of Magnus or a portal to the afterlife realm Sovngarde. Meridia's shrine also has an impressive system of communication with the beacons using a beam of light. A lot of this involves Magitek though.
  • In Touhou Project, most Lunarian technology seems to fall into this to at least some degree, since it predates the human distinction between "technology" and "magic" and is apparently more complete than either. Their society outwardly resembles ancient China, and any device which resembles human technology is far more advanced than it looks, often relying on Quantum Mechanics Can Do Anything. Their primary weapons appear to be 19th-century rifles... which fire sprays of energy bullets controlled by the user's thoughts. Likewise Toyohime possesses a Disintegrator Ray in the form of a paper fan.
  • In Don't Starve, there are Touch Stones, which have tiny rocks in a circle surrounded by decapitated heads of Pig Men, that when touched causes the stones to rise out of the ground and resurrect the player once should they die. However, most characters unaware of this fact comment on how primitive the technology is, or refer to it as a "useless ward."
  • In Battleborn, the Eldrid have this. Along with much of their technology being Organic Technology, many of it also resembles like it's made out of ancient stone structures and such. This is best seen with the ancient but still functioning tech of the Aztanti, the ancient precursors of the Eldrid. While Eldrid tech as these on the surface look ancient and primitive, they are actually quite advanced if not much more than others due to being several millennia old. This look pretty much aligns with the Eldrid's philosophy of being one with nature rather than imposing on it.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles X: Downplayed example with the Nopon technology. They appear on the outset to be comparatively primitive, living in thatched huts made of sticks and leaves, and relying on beasts of burden rather than any kind of engine. On the other hand, they carry around strange lollipop-looking gadgets which are apparently multipurpose communicators that can even interface with the humans' without issue, the weaponry they design is at least on par with human and other alien weaponry, and they never show any surprise or confusion towards advanced technology, seeming to understand it just fine. Contrast the Prone, who actually are primitive hunter-gatherers and their utter incomprehension of the technology around them.
  • The various Lost Technology from The Legend of Zelda, whether it's the Tower of the Gods in The Wind Waker or the ancient Sheikah tech from Breath of the Wild, seem to be made from old stone with Tron Lines. Said tech consists of intelligent robots, levitating devices, and even a tablet computer with a digital camera feature.
  • In Pokémon Gold and Silver, it's established that the Johto region historically used hollowed-out fruits known as Apricorns to make Poké Balls, which are for all intents and purposes Perpetual Motion Machines.
  • Crops up in Starbound, primarily with the Avians and the Florans. The Avians are culturally on the level of Aztecs (complete with a prominent religion that incorporates sacrifice), yet have access to space flight, energy weapons, computers, and more, all of which make use of strange red crystals whose workings are a closely guarded secret of the priesthood (and who were given the technology by precursors). Florans, meanwhile, are very primitive and cannot really understand higher technology, but some of them can control plants and combine it with scavenged technology so they can use it properly, giving them spaceships, weapons, and more. Their ability to work with plants also lets them make organic lights and living vine doors, among other things. The result is that Avian spaceships, for instance, resemble huge flying pyramids, while Floran ships are cobbled together from vines and stolen ship parts. The Glitch also deserve mention, being trapped in the Medieval era of technogical and societal development, but having starships nonetheless-which look like Ominous Floating Castles.
  • Zigzagged with Freedom Planet. The game is set in a world resembling Medieval China and Medieval Japan, but its technology, depending on the field, ranges between mid-20th century and far more advanced than modern Earth. On the one hand, their robots are extremely advanced and used for everyday purposes, and they can build Humongous Mecha. On the other, they are not yet capable of space flight but appear to be very close to it, though they also have airships resembling Junks, and the only phones shown are rotary. This is all explained late in the game: Planet Avalice used to actually be at Medieval East Asian technology levels when a ship of engineers from a Higher-Tech Species crashed there. Unable to repair the ship and leave, they chose to share their power and knowledge with the locals, albeit covertly, and in a form they could understand, hence the inconsistent technology levels and politics and culture still strongly tied to the setting's theme.
  • Most weapons themed around a specific time period in Warframe look like obsolete weapons when compared to the other choices on offer, but actually employ cutting edge materials and technology to be just as deadly as any other weapon, especially in the hands of a Tenno. Prime examples are the Nikanas; the Zhuge, Attica and Nagantaka and the Ninkondi and Shaku, which can easily keep up with assault rifles, plasma casters, and handheld laser cannons.
  • In Chrono Trigger, the technology of 65,000,000 is in many cases more advanced than that of 2300. Elixir (called "Sweet Water" in this time) can be had for the asking, they can make powerful robot arms out of stone and awe-inspiring guns and armor from rubies, and Dreamstone is common enough to win in a drinking contest. And none of this is magical, since magic doesn't exist yet. The net result is a sort of Garden of Eden, where Stone Age crafts have the power of futuristic technology and Magitek.

    Web Animation 
  • Parodied in the Flash-animated series Stone Trek, which is an odd fusion of The Flintstones and Star Trek. Their stoneship is made of rock and wood, their reactor core is a portable volcano, and their transporter literally just opens trap doors under the crew to drop them down to the planet.

    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.
    • Some transapients make a game out of trying to construct advanced technology out of primitive materials. One result of this was Clade Machina Babbagenseii, a group of artificially intelligent machines made using only Babbage-era (mid-1800's) computation technology. They're very large (each is over 50 km in radius), and their information processing speed is rather slow, but they are fully intelligent, self-aware minds.
  • Stone Trek: a fan mashup of Star Trek: The Original Series and The Flintstones. They have faster than light travel in a starship made of wood and stone, lashed together with leather straps, powered by a tame volcano.

    Western Animation 
  • 2x4 technology in Codename: Kids Next Door varies in function from mundane to impossibly advanced. For instance, the S.P.L.A.N.K.E.R. is really just a handheld weapon consisting of two boards with a spring-loaded hinge, while other weapons, including guns that at first only shoot mustard or gumballs, are upgraded to high-tech ray guns after Continuity Creep sets in.
  • Pops up repeatedly in The Davincibles. One episode for example featured a Maya temple that turned out to be an ancient spaceship.
  • DuckTales:
    • The booby-trapped temple in "Too Much of A Gold Thing". By opening all the doors to all three treasure vaults at once, Scrooge McDuck sets off a device that, in quick succession, causes the floor to collapse into a lake of molten gold, the temple to sink in the lake of molten gold, the entire valley to be engulfed in a lake of molten gold, and said lake of molten gold to explode in a volcanic eruption.
    • In "Bubba's Big Brainstorm", the ancient "Thinkas" are pure Mayincatec in their styling, yet use computerized and robotic defenses reminiscent of Point-and-Click adventure game puzzles.
  • The Flintstones would occasionally feature various geniuses, mad scientists, or supervillains inventing from Stone Age materials items that'd be more at home in the Jetsons' time-era (versus being a mere analog of modern-day technology).
    • A mad scientist in an original series episode invents a means of switching the minds of individuals (including the Flintstones, Rubbles, and even Dino).
    • A scientist at the Bedrock World's Fair in the original series invented a working (albeit not very well) time machine.
    • The Captain Caveman segments of The Flintstone Comedy Show (and later spinoff The Flintstone Kids) often featured various villains using highly advanced technology. In The Flintstone Comedy Show, supervillain duo Stormfront and Weathergirl had a weather-controlling ring. In The Flintstone Kids, recurring villain Mr. Bad once made use of highly functional robots.
    • The villain in the movie The Man Called Flintstone uses the series's Modern Stone Age technology to build missiles, and it's implied that the government is, too. A TV special, Fred's Final Fling, showed that cave-humanity had already flung boulders into orbit by the series' time.
  • An animated sequel to Gilligan's Island, called Gilligan's Planet had the Professor create a working spaceship out of coconuts and bamboo! Naturally, it too crashed, on a distant planet this time.
  • Steven Universe: The ruins of ancient Gem sites, despite being built by a spacefaring race, look like ancient human ruins albeit with some stranger elements. The ubiquitous warp pads look like carved stone daises. Even the Flying Saucers they flew in on seem to be made of stone and have the interior of a Temple of Doom, though they were apparently more colorful when operational. By contrast, modern Homeworld technology is obviously advanced and quite alien-looking. In a more comical variant, Pearl and Peridot once made functioning Mini Mechas out of a bunch of scrap sitting in a barn. Pearl's includes a laser beam that fires out of a traffic cone.

    Real Life 
  • Earthworks, or land art, is essentially a form of this concept in an art movement, using modern machinery and other technology to sculpt giant sculptures into the land that not only look primitive but are meant to be temporary and naturally erode away.
  • There's almost too many architecture movements to list. Art deco, for example, is defined by its homage to ancient styles yet fully embraces the use of modern technology to achieve this, resulting in the Empire State Building resembling a ziggurat, and the Chrysler Building having gargoyles.
  • Plenty of modern technological devices meant to be used outdoors are designed to blend in to the environment: cell towers disguised as trees, speakers that look like rocks, etc.
  • Many buildings will use standardized materials for rapid and reliable construction but do things like make a facade that resembles roughly-cut stone blocks to give it the appearance and gravitas of a much older structure.