A Sarcophagus is a device the Goa'uld use to rapidly heal injuries and extend their lifespans. The device can also bring the recently deceased back to life. Despite the fact that the Goa'uld are scavengers and thieves of technology, there are a few of them who have come up with quite impressive adoptions of technology they have stolen and/or studied. Based on the Ancient healing device, but heavily modified so a human can use it, the Sarcophagus is one of the more impressive Goa'uld inventions.
A Sarcophagus is based on the Ancient healing device technology. It can heal all illness and damage done to the body, but can not (according to Jacob Carter/Selmak) repair extensive brain damage. Using it very occasionally produces no ill effects. However, when using regularly, especially when unneeded, the psychological side effects can include megalomania and intense notions of superiority. This is one of the reasons that make the Goa'uld and Tok'ra different from each other, as the Goa'uld are evil and megalomaniacal. Some Goa'uld, such as Yu use the device nearly every day. (SG1: "Need", "Abyss", "Evolution, Part 1", "Death Knell")
The first Sarcophagus was created by an ancient Goa'uld known as Telchak. The Sarcophagus was derived from the Ancient healing device (recovered from Honduras by Dr. Daniel Jackson), a technology which was too powerful itself to be used upon normal humans. The Tok'ra do not use the Sarcophagus, claiming that it damages the soul. However, a Sarcophagus is known not only to give life, but to actually sustain life in a form of stasis for several thousand years (as demonstrated by the Goa'uld Hathor, who had been sealed away in a Sarcophagus for almost 2,000 years, without any age or ill effects). Another Goa'uld, Marduk, was known to have been sealed away in a Sarcophagus for 4,000 years, along with a vicious and dangerous creature intended to devour the Goa'uld. Because of the Sarcophagus' special ability to keep the Goa'uld alive, it may have taken the vicious creature a long while to slowly devour the Goa'uld. For the Goa'uld trapped inside, it was a long, painful, and agonizing process that resulted in an "eternal torture." The Goa'uld use the device on prisoners when their torture methods accidentally or intentionally kill their victims. The limits of the Sarcophagus were demonstrated by Lord Yu, whose extreme age reduced the effectiveness of the Sarcophagus' regenerative powers, eventually reaching a point where Yu was comparatively senile and no longer fit to command. This confirmed that as powerful as Sarcophagus technology is, it cannot grant true immortality. (Stargate) (SG1: "Hathor", "Need", "The Tomb", "Abyss", "Evolution, Part 1")
Dr. Daniel Jackson encountered a Sarcophagus for the first time after being killed by a blast from a Staff weapon, awakening inside with no wounds on his body when Ra intended to use him as an example of his power. Jackson used the device again to revive his wife Sha're, who had been killed by another staff. (Stargate)
During Apophis' attack on Earth, Klorel rises from a sarcophagus which resurrects him when O'Neill is forced to kill him. The sarcophagus is later used by Daniel to heal his mortal wounds from a staff weapon. (SG1: "Within the Serpent's Grasp", "The Serpent's Lair")
Later, after falling in love with an alien princess, Jackson began using the Sarcophagus more often and soon became addicted to the device, demonstrating symptoms common to the Goa'uld who regularly use them, including paranoia, egotism and megalomania. He eventually recovered from the side effects despite going through a huge withdrawal period that saw him violently attack his fellow SGC colleagues and nearly drove him to kill O'Neill. (SG1: "Need")
When Apophis died on Earth of injuries created by extreme torture, SG-1 worried Sokar would continue his attack on Earth as he was dead. However, Martouf informed them that Sokar had a sarcophagus in his possession and could easily resurrect him. This was later shown to be true as a resurrected Apophis was encountered on Netu. (SG1: "Serpent's Song", "Jolinar's Memories")
Teal'c of Chulak, a Jaffa and member of SG-1 was brought back to life via a Sarcophagus after being killed in an ambush his sworn enemy Tanith had arranged. Apophis used the Sarcophagus to bring Teal'c back to life before brainwashing Teal'c into believing that he had always served Apophis and that his five years of fighting alongside SG-1 had been nothing more than a lie. Teal'c's mentor, Bra'tac who performed the Rite of M'al Sharran eventually succeeded in breaking Apophis' hold over Teal'c. (SG1: "Enemies", "Threshold")
When Colonel Jack O'Neill was captured and tortured to death countless times by Ba'al, he became addicted to its effects and experienced withdrawal symptoms upon his escape. Ba'al also mentions that his mind was also losing his ability to comprehend as he was killed and resurrected over and over again. (SG1: "Abyss")
- It is possible the Stargate SG-1 episode "Need" was used to add negative side-effects to the sarcophagus technology, as the writers believed it was "too powerful" and needed to be ruled out as a method to solve every character death or medical crisis situation in future episodes. This was hinted at in the Stargate SG-1 episode "200" in which a human from offworld became the writer for a Sci-Fi show, and while speaking to SG-1 for inspiration, said that sometimes limits need to be imposed on technology and characters within a show so that they did not become a simple solution for all future crisis.
- In the alternate timeline of Stargate SG-1: Apocalypse, the Wraith were using the sarcophagus to sustain their food supply, but they acknowledged that this process had the side-effect of driving the Wraith victims increasingly insane.