Star Trek is filled with a wild array of aliens. Any given episode lives up to the original mandate to “explore strange new worlds” and to “seek out new life and new civilization.” Part of what makes this life seem both strange and new is the different artifacts their civilizations have built.
Sometimes, the artifacts are small enough to fit into your hands but offer a way to fundamentally change your life. Other times, the artifacts let you absorb the life and experiences of someone else entirely. A few of them simply find a creative way to end you!
Because Star Trek has been going for many decades, there have been many different alien artifacts. Even if you have access to a positronic brain or a ship’s computer, it can feel difficult for you to keep up with everything.
Don’t worry—that’s where we come in! We scoured the Star Trek galaxy to find some of the weirdest and dangerous artifacts that any crew has ever encountered. To top it off, we ranked them all, so you can see which artifacts nearly destroyed Starfleet all the way to which threaten all of reality!
You’ll wish the Captain’s chair had a seatbelt as you read Star Trek: 15 Most Powerful Artifacts, Ranked!
15 Beacon of Kahless
At the top of our list is a reminder that artifacts don’t have to possess special powers to be powerful. The Beacon of Kahless is a Klingon artifact, and when it is activated by “the torchbearer,” the prophecy holds that it will unite the great houses of the Klingon Empire.
We get to see all of this in action early on in Star Trek: Discovery. Previously, the different Klingon houses were all separate factions fighting for their own separate turf. After it was lit, however, the entire empire joins together to wage war against a beleaguered Starfleet.
At great cost and with great luck, Starfleet ends the war— but they were nearly brought to extinction by a simple artifact in space, and life in the Federation was never the same again.
14 Orb of Prophecy and Change
Some of the most intriguing artifacts in all of Star Trek come from the Prophets. These are the mysterious “wormhole aliens” that send prophecies and artifacts to the planet of Bajor. One of these artifacts is the Orb of Prophecy and Change, and it manages to pack quite a punch!
True to its name, this orb has the power to confer special visions and prophecies on different people. For a Bajoran named Trakor, the orb allowed him to write detailed prophecies about Benjamin Sisko that would come true thousands of years later. For Sisko himself, the orb was able to help him make sense of the scattered prophetic visions he was already receiving after he was injured.
The person who controls this orb ultimately controls knowledge of the future.
13 Interactive Archive from "Masks"
Most of the artifacts in Star Trek are obviously artifacts. However, some of them are disguised, especially when they are part of an elaborate trap. That is exactly the case when Data and the crew of the Enterprise encounter an alien artifact in “Masks".
In this episode, the Enterprise is simply trying to scan a rogue comet. It turns out that the “comet” was actually an alien archive that had a special twist: it soon starts transforming Data and different parts of the ship into recreations of an ancient alien culture.
The plot is an incoherent mess, but it seems this archive turned artifact is a way of forcing explorers to relive the members and events of an exotic cultural past if they dare to perform a scan.
12 Space Probe from "The Inner Light"
As it turns out, ancient alien cultures forcing people to relive their past is something that the Next Generation crew encountered more than once. In “The Inner Light”, Captain Picard is zapped by an exotic alien artifact that profoundly changes his entire life.
The artifact in question is a simple-looking space probe.
However, after Picard is zapped, he lives for an entire virtual lifetime in the life of another person. He grows old, has a family, and watches the impending doom of an entire alien civilization. In reality, Picard is only unconscious for about half an hour, but this simple artifact made him feel like he had lived entire decades as someone else.
This little probe packs a big punch, and Picard was never the same!
11 Howard Family Heirloom
Not all alien artifacts are created equal. Some offer special insight into the far-flung future, while others allow you to learn every important detail about an alien culture. In the case of a special candle in Dr. Crusher’s family, though, all you get is a randy Scottish ghost!
Through a really messy and convoluted plot, we find out that Dr. Crusher’s family has kept a candle that is actually a special alien artifact. Specifically, it allows an anaphasic lifeform who acts like a ghost to basically live forever.
Due to his dangerous manipulations of her family, Dr. Crusher destroys the candle and effectively sentences this alien ghost to death. This frees her from his pain and torment, but it does nothing for viewers who can never really unsee such a terrible episode.
10 The Time Portal on Golana
Sometimes, the crew of our favorite shows discovers how powerful these artifacts are completely by accident. That’s the case with a time portal that Miles O’Brien and his family discover on the Bajoran planet of Golana. It turned out that this portal could mess with all of history.
Chief O’Brien’s daughter Molly goes through this portal and is instantly transported three hundred years into the planet’s past. When they retrieve her, she has aged a decade in the past and become somewhat feral.
The episode centers around getting the eight year-old Molly back, but this simple portal could allow someone to walk through and forever alter the future to their own needs! It’s no wonder that O’Brien wants to destroy the portal before it can cause any more harm.
9 Stone of Gol
Vulcans are typically associated with peace, harmony, and logic. However, they had their own violent past, and during this time, they learned how to use their formidable mental powers as a weapon. Captain Picard discovers this when he accidentally helps a Romulan retrieve and assemble the Stone of Gol for an agent of the Vulcan Isolationist Movement.
This artifact also went by a more direct name: “the psionic resonator.” It took the mental energy of the Vulcans wielding it and turned it into kinetic energy that could be used to hurt or even kill their foes. It’s insanely dangerous, and the only reason it’s not higher on this list is that it’s difficult for attackers to use and can be defeated if the victims simply calm their minds.
8 Preserver Obelisk
Back during The Original Series, Kirk and crew discovered a powerful alien artifact. It was easy to underestimate this thing because it looked like a simple obelisk; a simple statement piece of art.
It turned out this thing was actually the Swiss army knife of artifacts!
The first thing we see this obelisk do is zap Captain Kirk’s memories, leaving him to fend for himself on an alien planet for several months. When his memory is restored by Spock, they learn that the obelisk was designed by the Preservers to help Native Americans deflect asteroids with more power than even the Enterprise could provide!
This also provides a number of defensive possibilities, as the obelisk alone made this one of the safest planets in the galaxy.
7 Tablet from "The Reckoning"
Pretty much everything related to Bajor had some mystic stuff going on with it. That was certainly the case with a tablet Sisko encounters in “The Reckoning.” The tablet has a bunch of apocalyptic warnings, and eventually Sisko gets sick of the Prophets being vague and just smashes the damn thing open.
That’s when things get weird.
It turns out this artifact had the energy of Prophets and Pah Wraiths inside.
They end up possessing multiple people and re-enacting their ancient battle, and it takes flooding the station with gas to drive them out of the possessed bodies. It seemed to be a one-time event, but it’s tough to deny the power of an artifact that gives you portable access to gods and demons!
6 Orb of Time
Many of the Bajoran orbs simply offer insights to different people. These range from insight while they meditate to specific visions of the future. However, one orb is able to do a whole lot more. which makes it the most dangerous one of them all!
The Orb of Time allows users to go backwards in time to an era of their choosing.
Obviously, this has the potential for someone to completely corrupt the timeline, and that’s what ends up happening when a Klingon goes back in time and tries to blow up Captain Kirk (with a Tribble, no less). Sisko and his crew are able to stop him and preserve the timeline, but this orb will remain a persistent threat to all of reality for as long as it exists.
5 Portal 63
Much of the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation ranges from pretty forgettable to pretty bad. However, the season gets points for introducing us to some really alien ideas and artifacts. One of these weird artifacts is simply known as Portal 63.
This was more than just another artifact.
In fact, it was a guardian that had protected the planet for over 600,000 years. While artificial in nature, this portal could read minds, change shape, and stop powerful starships from moving. How powerful was this thing? If Riker had not impressed it with his morality, the Enterprise crew would never have escaped from its clutches. Ultimately, this is one of the most powerful artifacts any crew ever encounters.
4 Dyson Sphere
Star Trek is often credited with predicting future tech. After all, it gave us a world of cell phones and Facetime calls decades before this technology became real. Every now and then, though, Star Trek goes in the other direction and helps us to visualize the futuristic concepts that others have already dreamed of.
A great example of this is the Dyson Sphere. In “Relics”, Picard and crew find veteran Engineer Scotty trapped in the transporter buffer of a ship that crashed into the sphere. The sphere itself is build around a star, providing potentially limitless energy and power for any civilization who would live inside of it.
While the sphere ended up being a deadly danger that the Enterprise had to escape, there is no doubt that this is the most amazing engineering feat ever seen by our characters!
3 Iconian Gateways
We’ve got a lot of powerful artifacts on this list. However, this one is so powerful that it rendered starships basically obsolete for the Iconian Empire. These mighty beings had no need of starships because their special gateways allowed them to travel anywhere in the galaxy that they wanted!
The ancient Iconians used this technology to become the ultimate warriors.
They could send any size force to any place at any time, guaranteeing them absolute control. Even after the collapse of the empire, their gateways are sought out by different races such as the Romulans and the Jem’Hadar who would use it to wage wars of conquest.
Bottom line? There’s a reason that these are the kinds of artifacts Starfleet will go to any length to destroy.
2 Time Crystal
Obviously, Star Trek has had its fair share of time travel plots. Several artifacts that facilitate time travel appear on this list. However, galactic con man Harry Mudd introduces us to a new kind of time travel technology that allows you to do basically anything that you want.
Mudd ends up tormenting the crew of the Discovery with special Time Crystals that allow him to keep repeating the same time loop while still retaining his memories. This lets him have as many tries as he needs for any crime of his choice while also letting him learn all about his enemies. If these things didn’t destroy themselves once you break the loop, they’d be at the top of the list for sure!
1 Guardian of Forever
What other Star Trek artifact could top this list except for the Guardian of Forever? This thing goes way beyond other time portals: it is powered by sentient alien intelligence, and it offers the ability to travel anywhere in time or space (it’s basically a TARDIS that never moves).
There is always the possibility that someone going through could destroy their own future.
We see this happen when a time-transplanted Dr. McCoy saves Edith Keeler’s life and her activism keeps America out of World War II, leading to Nazi domination of the Earth! Whether by intention or accident, the Guardian threatens to unravel reality every time someone jumps through. Combined with its vast intelligence that spans millennia, there is no more powerful an artifact in all of Trek.
Got a powerful Star Trek artifact we overlooked? Let us know in the comments!