Archaeologists excavating ruins near the Egyptian city of Giza have discovered a stone stairgate covered in hieroglyphs, the United States government have announced today. The US release claims that the gate is likely to have been created by an alien race, although they say it also bears the hallmarks of the ancient Ikean civilisation.
The stairgate, initially placed into storage and transported from Egypt to the Cheyenne Mountain complex in Colorado at the end of the Second World War, has been dubbed 'SG-Juan' after Juan Carlos Monatadano who unearthed it.
Years of painstaking research have allowed engineering teams to probe the inner workings of the long-dormant device, which seems capable of creating rickety portals in time and space. 'It took us a while to work out how to open the stairgate,' said Professor Daniel Jackson, part of the team responsible, 'but eventually we realised there was a trick to it and we just had to use two hands to press both little clips in at the same time as lifting the handle.'
'We had expected some kind of wormhole-vortex effect with the potential to transport us to far-away planets,' he went on, 'but all we got was a wooden hill. We dialled up a theoretically-correct destination but the wooden hill just took us to Bedfordshire.'
Analysis initially showed the journey terminating on a desert-like planet on the opposite limb of the galaxy, but it appears that the fine grains detected by the probes sent through the gate may just have been dust mites. 'We ended up in a shabby bedroom in Luton,' explained an anonymous marine, 'so it's a damn good job we went through fully armed.'
Several other coded dialling sequences have been tried in locating distant, potentially hostile, planets but with disappointing results. 'Our only other successful attempt so far has sent us to the Land of Nod,' said a deflated Jackson, 'which is a bedding specialist in Essex. We're beginning to think that this stairgate serves little useful purpose, though we hear there is some chatter about the device on UK parenting website Mumsnet.'
Passing through the stairgate has been described as 'a surreal trip full of visual and mental disturbances' by both military and scientific personnel alike. 'Once I emerged it was as if I was coming out of a dream,' exclaimed one dazed traveller, 'I popped out smelling like a cider and perry factory after traversing all those apples and pears.'
Jackson's wife Deborah, also a scientist working on the project, has her own theory on why the gate is not working as expected. 'I've been telling him for years that he needs to learn to use a spirit level and hammer drill properly,' she said, 'I know he claims that it's an optical illusion because the ceiling isn't completely horizontal, but I can tell just by looking at it that he didn't put the bloody thing up straight.'
Professor Jackson was unavailable for comment, but was said to be 'sulking in his shed for a bit'.