The great continent on which much of the Silmarillion , and the adventures of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings , are set. Little is known of the east or south of Middle-earth, or of the far north, but the geography and history of its Western lands are chronicled in great detail.
From fear of Tulkas , Melkor had fled beyond the Walls of the World , and Middle-earth was a place of peace and beauty.
Inside the encyclopedia
The Valar themselves dwelt in its central regions, on the green island of Almaren. This was the time known as the Spring of Arda. Unknown to the Valar , though, Melkor secretly returned, and delved his first great fortress of Utumno in the mountains of the far distant north.
When he judged the time was right, he assailed Almaren and, surprising the Valar , destroyed their habitation in Middle-earth. Fleeing back to Utumno , he saved himself from the wrath of Tulkas. This is one of the great disasters of Middle-earth's history: the Valar departed forever, and left Middle-earth under the sole control of Melkor , who claimed it as his own.
Though the Valar made a new home for themselves in Aman , and lit their new land of Valinor with the light of the Two Trees , Middle-earth was now left in darkness for many Ages.
Despite these brief visits from the Valar , though, Middle-earth was effectively controlled by Melkor , who was free to act as he would. Slowly, his polluted realm spread southwards over Middle-earth. There followed the Battle of the Powers in the north and west of Middle-earth.
That war rent and twisted the lands, giving them the shape they were to keep until the War of Wrath at the end of the First Age.
Dorthonion and the highlands north of Beleriand were raised up at that time, and many bays, including the Bay of Balar , were created.
Melkor was ultimately defeated, and taken as a prisoner back to Valinor.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor Game Guide
After much debate, the Valar also offered the Elves a home in Aman , and many accepted. Many of these departed Middle-earth across the Sea , but some remained, of which the major groups were the Sindar of Beleriand and the Nandor of the Anduin valley. Other groups, mainly of Telerin origin, had also left the Journey : these were the people who were to become known as the Silvan Elves.
Also, in the far east, remained the Elves who had refused the summons of the Valar , the Avari. All these kinds together are known as the Moriquendi , the Dark Elves , for they did not go to Valinor or see the light of the Two Trees.
Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle Earth J.R.R. Tolkien Part 1
Merely from the story of The Lord of the Rings , it's perhaps not entirely clear where and when the events take place. That's especially true for those who have come to Tolkien's work through the movie version, and so don't have access to the background details in the Prologue and the Appendices.
Actually, the Prologue to The Lord of the Rings has some fairly explicit comments to make on the topic:. These comments and many others, as we'll see make it clear that Middle-earth is actually no more or less than our own Earth, and the story belongs to a time that was certainly long ago, but not unimaginably remote in time.
Despite the change in the shape of the continents, it isn't hard to locate the action of The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien makes this particular clear in a comment in the Prologue to that book:. In other words, the Shire and the lands around lay in the same region of the world as modern Europe. As the characters travel south from the northerly latitudes of the Shire , the climate becomes warmer and drier, just as it would for a traveller journeying from say Britain to the southern parts of Europe.
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Beyond the lands visited by the Hobbits are others, less familiar, to the south and east. The Americas are a little more difficult to place in Tolkien's world. The new lands to the west must surely be the Americas.
Those in the east are less easy to identify - perhaps these words refer to the emergence of, say, Australia or Japan, though it's much harder to be sure of Tolkien's intentions in this area. Though we can't fix the dates of Tolkien's tales to the precise year, it's clear that he had in mind a time-scheme placing them just a few thousand years ago.
The most specific comment he made on the topic comes from Tolkien's letters:. This is less definitive than it might appear, because other references hint at slightly longer time-scales, up to about 8, years. So, we can't say exactly how long ago Frodo made his journey into Mordor , but it's clearly somewhere between about 6, and 8, years ago. The dating of Tolkien's world places it just on the fringes of our own prehistory.
Historically, 6, to 8, years ago most of the world was still in the Stone Age, and the shapes of the continents and their shorelines were basically in their modern form - quite different from those shown in Tolkien's maps.
So, what happened? Such drastic change seems to imply that some great catastrophe overtook the civilizations of Middle-earth before our own era began, but if that was Tolkien's intention, he does no more than hint at the possibility. Whatever the cause, at least something of the old world survived into modern times.
For instance, it seems clear that Tolkien imagined both Hobbits and Dragons surviving into historical times, and even to modern days for instance, see the quote above from the Prologue to The Lord of the Rings , where he speaks of Hobbits still lingering in the North-West of the Old World. It seems some of the Elves still remain, too, but in quite changed form - for instance, the Third Age is described as the time of:.
By our time the fading of the last Elves east of the Sea is all but complete, but a few still remain, as whispers or echoes of their ancient selves. One race that definitely survived, of course, was Men. The Third Age of the World was also the establishment of the Dominion of Men , and that's the ultimate bridge between Tolkien's world and our own.
Context and approach
Middle-earth is conventionally treated as a single continent, but in fact may have consisted of more than one landmass. Tolkien's writings on this topic, and especially his Letters , suggest that Middle-earth is defined as that part of the world inhabited by mortal beings that is, all the lands of Arda except Aman and, apparently, the Empty Lands. It might therefore easily have consisted of more than one continent. The Silmarillion , 1 Of the Beginning of Days.
This interpretation is supported by Tolkien in his letters, and also by the quote above note 2. Tolkien , No. We are given no clue as to where this hall might have been. All rights reserved.
For conditions of reuse, see the Site FAQ. Cities and buildings Fields, plains and deserts Forests Hills and mountains Islands and promontories Lands, realms and regions Rivers and lakes Seas and oceans Other places. A huge continent or continents 1 lying to the east of the Great Sea.
Debatable, but probably 'Earth in the Middle of the encircling seas 3 '. Middle-earth The Mortal Lands of Arda. The northwestwern parts of Middle-earth at the time of the War of the Ring.
Where and when was Middle-earth? Actually, the Prologue to The Lord of the Rings has some fairly explicit comments to make on the topic: 'Those days, the Third Age of Middle-earth, are now long past, and the shape of all lands has been changed Notes 1 Middle-earth is conventionally treated as a single continent, but in fact may have consisted of more than one landmass.
See also Website services kindly sponsored by Discus from Axiom Software Ltd. Discus branding : an optional service that gives you the power to change the layout of DISC questionnaires and reports. Tolkien makes this particular clear in a comment in the Prologue to that book: ' Tolkien No , dated This is less definitive than it might appear, because other references hint at slightly longer time-scales, up to about 8, years. From Middle-earth to Our Earth The dating of Tolkien's world places it just on the fringes of our own prehistory.
It seems some of the Elves still remain, too, but in quite changed form - for instance, the Third Age is described as the time of: 'the last of the lingering dominion of visible fully incarnate Elves ' The Letters of J.
Tolkien No , provisionally dated By our time the fading of the last Elves east of the Sea is all but complete, but a few still remain, as whispers or echoes of their ancient selves.