Message Board | Rules

Thread: Earth as middle earth

Bottom of Page    Message Board > Places > Earth as middle earth   
ok we all hopefully know that jRR based his books on the world war so isn't it possible that he based middle-earth on some modern day countries if so give some suggestions of where you think some countries came into middle-earth
If tolkien based middle earth geographically its possible that america is Valinor. what do you all think?
we all hopefully know that jRR based his books on the world war
Sorry, you need to reread the Forward to LotR where Tolkien wrote, among other things (like it wasn't an allegory) that:
It was written long before the foreshadow of 1939 had yet become a threat of inevitable disaster, and from that point the story would have developed along essentially the same lines, if that disaster had been averted. Its sources are things long before in mind, or in some cases already written, and little or nothing in it was modified by the war that began in 1939 or its sequels.
- from the Forward to LotR

If tolkien based middle earth geographically its possible that america is Valinor.
No, the Americas are still here on Earth. When Iluvatar caused the sinking of N’menor, he also removed Aman and Valinor from the confines of Arda so that the Valar would never again be bothered by the likes of Men.
But the land of Aman and Eress’a of the Eldar were taken away and removed beyond the reach of Men for ever. - from near the end of the 'Akallab’th' in The Silmarillion.
Tolkien said that America was once the Landof the Gates of Morning and on the west coast stood the Rockies. When the world became round, America could be in the far west, or in the far east, whichever way you like. I also got a map of Midle Earth that looks unmistakingly like Weatern Eurassia(Europe) and northern Africa. Click here.
This URL works so do you mind to have a look at it?
Tolkien was a soldier in world war 1 and it is believed that he wrote his book in the trenches, one of the theories of christopher tolkien that the events in the 1st 2nd 3rd 4th ages of middle earth are part of a forgotten time period of european history.
I do not believe Middle-earth represents any period that has occured in our history.

America cannot be Aman for the reasons Grondy gave. Aman would lie somewhere far above America in some outer plain like the thermosphere or exosphere (perhaps the equivelent of Ilmen or Vaiya).
America cannot be the Gates of Morning (also called Lands of Sun) either becuase they lie in the furthest East of Arda, not the furthest west.

America would be the 'New lands' that were formed after Valinor was taken away. The lands that took the place of Valinor on Earth but were uninhabited.
To quote the quote Galin quoted in The Hobbit

'... May I say that all this is 'mythical', and not any kind of new religion or vision. As far as I know it is merely an imaginative invention, to express, in the only way I can, some of my (dim) apprehensions of the world. All I can say is that, if it were 'history' it would be difficult to fit the lands and events (or 'cultures') into such evidence as we possess, archaeological or geological, concerning the nearer or remoter part of what is now called Europe; though the Shire, for instance, is expressly stated to have been in this region (I p. 12)*. I could have fitted things in with greater verisimilitude, if the story had not become too far developed, before the question ever occurred to me. I doubt if there would have been much gain; and I hope the evidently long but undefined gap* in time between the Fall of Barad-d’r and our Days is sufficient for 'literary credibility', even for readers acquainted with what is known or surmised of 'pre-history'.

I have, I suppose, constructed an imaginary time, but kept my feet on my own mother-earth for place. I prefer that to the contemporary mode of seeking remote globes in 'space'. However curious, they are alien, and not lovable with the love of blood-kin.'

JRRT 1958, Letters

As I said in the thread I linked to, I believe that many ages may have passede between the time of Tolkien's tale and ours. The Valar may have changed the shape of the lands many times.
(Of course I don't *really* believe Tolkien's world was real, but it is nice to pretend.)
Indeed following from that quote it is possible that the history of Arda could have fitted into an unknown part of our past perhaps about 10,000 years ago after the Ice Age. Perhaps Humans evolved to the Middle-earth level but then were almost wiped out back to cave-men stage by some cataclysm a few thousand years ago.

This is not all that impossible. Look what the Ancient Egyptians did 5000 years ago, and the Ancient Greeks. And Stone henge itself is a marvelously complex contruction. Its more than just something to look at. If memory serves it was some kind of device for telling time/date etc. But its very complicated and scientists are amazed how people from 5000 years ago could come up with something like that.

What I am saying is that various People in this world have had there own mini-evolutions (like the Egyptians) and created great things and then disappeared. Perhaps its not so incredible that there could be a slot allocated in our history where Middle-earth could have fitted without dispute and then fell afterwards.

Perhaps our own world began just like Arda 4 billion years or so ago and sinse then the continetal plates have changed many times and since the Elves left Middle-earth (our world as we know it) its so long ago that the stars have changed.

Perhaps I am letting my imagination get the better of me...
How fun! Those are the kind of ideas I have been playing with as well. Orc Smiling Smilie
No harm in dreaming. Those who have both feet firmly planted on the ground, stand still.
And if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to....
Tolkien said that America was once the Landof the Gates of Morning and on the west coast stood the Rockies.

Please back up your statements with quotes and sources, otherwise they're just worthless.
Lord of all made a brilliant point that the egyptians made extraordinary things and then dissapeared
I am always amazed by those giant sculptures of - not quite sure what animal. There are two of them side by side with a space in between and they are very large. Perhaps some people know what I am babbling about.
are you talking about those big statues in persia that look like a man at first but from the side the have the body of a lion and wings
Possibly. But I have seen them with Pyrimids in the background. Perhaps it was just on some film or other.
there is a half lion half man statue outside a pyramid in eygpt called a sphinx said to gaurd the pharoa within
That may well be it. Amazing how 5000 years ago men could create such a thing.
How did the ancients in England and Peru know how to make their giant pictures on the ground that are much more understandable when viewed from the air?
How did the ancients in England and Peru know how to make their giant pictures on the ground that are much more understandable when viewed from the air?

Because they were standing on the shoulders of giants.
Obviously they had no means of viewing them directly from above but maybe from any nearby cliffs or mountains? Only thing I can think of. Otherwise this is yet another marvel of ancient peoples that we have no answer for.
Those Nazcan marks in the desert are very mysterious. They did it in a middle of an desert and no mountains or cliffs nearby, what did they use? Could of they made flying machine? I don't know but they found an aeroplane, very old one that was unlike any design today. It was sleek and aerodynamic but it was in a triangular shape. My father told me that the triangular design was very aerodynamic. And that ruined aeroplane, discovered in the 1950s seemed hundreds of years old. Could that plane found in the middle of the Peruvian jungle could be the Nazca's plane? And I found that in one of the legends of Mu and Atlantis, is that these two continents, with their people destroyed each other in an Thermonuclear war. They found stone ruins in the Pacific in southern Japan, under 400m of water and many others in the Bermudas and in the south pacific. Why? Could they of been an advanced civilization before the Egyptians? Could it be real possibility?
I won't say its an impossibility but the fossil and archeological evidence to prove this is thus far almost non-existant.
Yes, and the scientific community still blame Indiana Jones and Lara Croft for that.
A lot of history was lost during the last Ice Age; whose to say those glaciers didn't grind out an ancient city or two; especially if the ice age was caused by a thermonuclear war over ten thousand years ago. Something to consider anyway.
I personally don't believe the idea that there were peoples advanced beyond the level of the Egyptians and ones discussed already simply becuase of the evolutionary evidence we have thus far. I am a little wan on the recent ancient history (the Dinosaur, Mesozoic Era being my area of knowledge) but we seem to have a pretty full evolutionary development since the first Homo Sapians. There are no indications that the Human brain has ever been as evolved as ours prior to now.
However its not impossible that being the true Humans started to be perhaps Human-like races existed prior to now and then there evoluationary lined failed and is wholly seperate from Ours. Another words perhaps this isn't the first time Human-like creatures evolved.
perhaps this isn't the first time Human-like creatures evolved.

as in Elves I take it... My idea is that it depended on the "solidity" of the Earth.. or the fullness of the reality of it. In other words, the species is the same but the condition of their perception of the world around them was different... but that should be for another thread.

I think that the Undying Lands are clearly in another Dimension... My impression was that rather than Aman being "taken up" like a flying saucer... That the flat span of the Western Ocean was wrapped around backwards to the Eastern Ocean and the world was made round.... so some kind of large time/space phenomenon apparently took place that altered the geography to a larger degree than before. Did not the Valar lose a bit of their direct influence as well after that?

I remember something about the "Sun Lands" .. maybe that was a fan fiction map.. but it looked remarkably like the Americas.
This map is wonderful

A very clever map, The Shire is directly where I live... I get all the Pipeweed! Orc Smiling SmilieSmoke Smilie
A very clever map, The Shire is directly where I live... I get all the Pipeweed!


I'm astounded with the Northern inversion on the Map that puts a lot of the action around the Scandinavian/Germanic regions which makes sense.

I'm ready to go to Iceland and find the Ruins of Gondolin.Smile Smilie

Numenor is kind of like Atlantis. Both having been swallowed up by the sea, or some such thing? But I'm not sure I'd call Atlantis a part of "our" geography.

Tolkien does several times does refer to Numenor as 'Numenor-Atlantis'. Beyond any doubt was it based on 'the Lost City'.
The tale in The Lost Road makes me wonder,

about an Englishman who has dreams of a lost island kingdom far West that had an evil downfall and he starts waking up and interpreting his dreams and learning these strange languages from them... He eventually ages and passes the knowledge onto his son. hehe
This may be a little off from middle "earth" as earth, but the constellations of middle earth (should we call this middle heaven?) described in "three is company" (Chapter Three of Book I of FoTR) could very well parallel our own.

Away high in the East swung Remmirath, the Netted Stars, and slowly above the mists red Borgil rose, glowing like a jewel of fire. Then by some shift of airs all the mist was drawn away like a veil, and there leaned up, as he climbed over the rim of the world, the Swordsman of the Sky, Menelvagor with his shining belt.

Menelvagor sounds suspiciously like the constellation we call Orion....
Borgil then must be Betelgeuse, Remmirath possibly the Pleiades.
I believe the Professor meant us to draw the similarity of his descriptions to those our heavenly bodies; it makes the tie between his world and ours that much more believable.
And there's no question that at the end of "Strider" (chapter X of the same), there is the Big Dipper (Ursa Major):

Peering out, Frodo saw that the night was still clear. The Sickle* was swinging bright above the shoulders of Bree-hill.

and in a footnote
*The Hobbits' name for the Plough or Great Bear
If you can't tell, I'm reading through FoTR again, and the heavens are catching my attention this time around.

From "the ring goes south" (ch. 3 of book 2 in FotR):
"The Hunter's Moon waxed round in the night sky, and put to flight all the lesser stars. But low in the South one star shone red. Every night, as the Moon waned again, it shone brighter and brighter. Frodo could see it from his window, deep in the heavens, burning like a watchful eye that glared above the trees on the brink of the valley."

Could this be Mars, or Jupiter, or another planet? It is certainly low enough to be in the Zodiac, and bright enough to be seen even with a full moon. If Frodo had been gazing at this from, say, the top of Orthanc, I might credit it as some evil fire of Sauron. (In fact, could this passage mistakenly be the inspiration for PJ's physical depiction of a giant glowing red eye on the top of a high tower in Mordor ?)
I think it is the star Antares.
In this neck of the woods, Antares in Autumn is a daytime star and thus is invisible behind the Sun. Of course the position of Arda under the Zodiac may be different than that of planet Earth bck then, but I am still leaning towards the planet Mars.

Tolkien was undoubtedly using whatever the red thingy was (whether Mars, a star, or Prince John's India rubber ball) simply to foreshadow Sauron's bloodshot fiery eyeball, which of course was impossible to see from Imladris due to the curvature of the earth and the intervening Misty Mountains. Teacher Smilie
Not sure if this is the right thread for this, but the desire expressed in the following poem could be construed as a longing for the singing of Elves whose song and poetry could bring visions of what it spoke of... and who lived on a flat earth and, later, had the power to sail the straight way even after the earth became curved. This may not be evidence of similarities between our geography and middle earth geography, but it might be evidence of similarities between the points of interest in our emotional geography and the fascination with Elves expressed by certain highly-esteemed hobbits.

----The following poetry brought to my attention by poem-a-day, which is a gem (dare I say a Silmaril?) of an email subscription in a world of SPAM----

A Curse On Geographers
by Dana Gioia

We want an earth to walk upon,
Not reasons to remain at home.
Shall we make journeys only to see
The same stars circiling at night?
Eat the same fish in foreign harbors?
Breathe the same air? Sail across
These oceans only to discover
Our own island's other shore?

Let oceans spill their green from off
The edges of the earth, and let
The curving plain unbend itself
Behind the mountains. Put wind back
Into the cheeks of demons. Voice,
Pronounce your unreasonable desire
And sing the round earth flat again!

I think we need to remember that Tolkien always insisted that the LOTR was not an allegory on WWII, and it was certainly not an allegory on his own war, WWI.  However, he also said that while it was not an allegory, applicability was quite another matter - and he certainly drew some of his characters and peoples and speech from his own experience in WWI - his Orcs are so close in some respects to the Tommies, Diggers, Poilus, Landsers etc.  I don't think he necessarily realised that it made them in a way both pitiable and forgiveable.   He was not alone in his evident shock at soldier language and behaviour - many other officers, Wilfred Owen included, reacted similarly (and, incidentally, so did I, to a degree,  just over fifty years later.)


However - the geography of Middle Earth.  The fact that Tolkien's maps vaguely resemble France to the South of the Norman coast, and points East,  certainly as far as the Alps and maybe as far as the Balkans, ties in neatly with the legends of Atlantis or Lyonesse, where the map of Western Europe would have been altered forever by their inundation in the Atlantic.   In this way, Middle Earth  might be understood as a pre-inundation France and Europe, whch does beg the question of whether the Southrons came from what we would understand as Spain - and certainly, we can recognise some of Sauron's forces as Africans, both North Africans and sub-Saharan, complete with elephants.

And beyond the Havens, which I imagine as rather like Douarnenez or maybe La Rochelle?   The New World, and when we look at its successor, we can only pity the ultimate fate of the Elves - although I always found something rather Elvish in Joan Baez - don't you?

The north-west of the Middle-Earth (which is what drawn on the map) can roughly be equated to Europe, Mediterranian and North Africa. Keep in mind that the distances on the published map are huge; Britain will fit comfortably into Eriador. The Shire corresponds to England, and Gondor is like the Mediterranean coast (Italy, Greece). Mordor could be Turkey or more Easterly parts. Mirkwood could be thought of as the primaeval forests of Easter Europe and Russia.


America is definitely _not_ Valinor, since Valinor was removed from Earth.

Well living in The New World ( Australia ) and never having been to Europe I always imagined that the East of Middle Earth was The British Isles and France and North Eastern Europe in very early days when the English channel did not exist and Britain was part of an older main land. I don't know enough regarding the geography of Europe to comment further re middle Earth, however I agree that The Blessed West was once attached to Europe in the North by frozen territory which edged ever closer East as it approached North. The Undying lands of course were removed from our Earth, with Eru turning the previously flat Earth into a globe, which of course we live on now. I agree that the ancient West is part of perhaps a different dimension, which Mortals cannot fathom or find, unless by accident. Of course the bent road can still be found, and travelled on by those Elves and Maia who still linger here. And there is evidence of the accidental finding of this bent road by hapless mortal mariners in the Silmarillion.

Incidentally (since it's come up) I think Tolkien ultimately saw the flat earth story as a Mannish myth. Very briefly:

Mannish version: Sun and Moon created from the Two Trees (with Men essentially awakening with the creation of the Sun). Much later, originally flat earth made round by God when the Isle of Numenor (an Isle made for certain Men) is destroyed.

Elvish version: Sun exists before the Elves awake (they still awake in starlight). The world was always round. Two Trees give light in Valinor under the Dome of Varda (star-imagines on Dome), Melkor attempts to blot out the Sun in Middle-earth. Much later, Numenor destroyed, Aman and Eressea taken away.

True Galin however the new Moon rising as the betrayed Noldor set foot bac on Middle Earh and Men awakened by the first Sun rise is so much more romantic, dramatic and wonderful. And a flat Arda has always fascinated me.

As a lover of maps and landscape history I have been interested in the geographical settings of the Lord of the Rings, and since moving house  a few years ago I have noticed that I am living in the setting of these books. I haven't done any particular research in this, just stumble across another name or location on my local patch of the UK. I am sure that Tolkien mixed history, myths and locations to suit his stories and used his knowledge of war and personal experiences. Does anyone know if he lived in Wales/English borders at all?

True Galin however the new Moon rising as the betrayed Noldor set foot bac on Middle Earh and Men awakened by the first Sun rise is so much more romantic, dramatic and wonderful. And a flat Arda has always fascinated me.  


I like the flat world (and older cosmology) too Brego, and I like to think Tolkien retained the flat world version by making Quenta Silmarillion a largely Mannish affair. Some seem to think Myths Transformed wholly supersedes earlier versions... and maybe these ideas were meant to at first... but I think JRRT ultimately realized the potential answer noted by Christopher Tolkien: alter the authorship and transmission of the work, not certain fundamental concepts...

... while (in my opinion) saving certain texts like the Awakening of the Quendi, for instance, to provide an Elvish perspective.

I should add that I'm not positive that in his later years JRRT necessarily retained every latest detail that can be found in the papers comprising Myths Transformed, but I do feel fairly confident that he re-imagined the Silmarillion as largely Mannish in authorship so that, in part, these notions (the original shape of the world and the creation of the Sun) could be dealt with in a way an older Tolkien felt more comfortable with.

Here's something I made: an overlay of the maps of the Middle-Earth and Europe, to scale. With the Shire placed in England (West Midlands, to be precise, roughly over Warwickshire where Tolkien spent his early years), this gives you an idea of distances and climate regions in the Lord of the Rings.


Here's a wider map of our world, with the above "middle-earth" part in the box. 

Makes me wonder what was the rest of Tolkien's world was like; what landscapes, countries, people there were. LotR mentions apes in the "dark forests of the South", meaning the jungle of course. It's incredible to think that so much important history concerning Arda happened only in that little north-west corner of the lands. I wonder  if there were any wild elves east or south of Mirkwood.

Like your map overlay. I guess any European person 'making up' mythical lands is bound to use his/her own knowledge of maps as a basis. I also think north and mid Wales would 'fit' fairly well on such an overlay.

So far I have found Osgiliath, Minis Tirith, Black Gate, Mordor, Bag End, Bree, Dead Marshes, The eye and Rivendell in this area.


I believe that the names Tolkien used and invented could find its likeliness in many places in Englad, as Old English was one of his inspirations.  Its a nice super imposition but I would think it would not be realistic to try to set ME in Europe as while it may have been a source when making ME, it would not really reflect the end product.

Also one thing we should bear in mind is that Beleriand was once part of ME and if we add that to the map then everything else would probably get pushed further to the east.

Inclusion of Beleriand doesn't push everything more to the east; the Shire stays firmly in England. Hobbiton was inspired by Sarehole near Birmingham, where Tolkien spent his early childhood. There's even the old Mill still there:

I suggest all Tolkien fans to read The Atlas of Middle-Earth:

Apart from the excellent maps, it describes the landscape, climate, vegetation, etc. and draws parallels with the known world.