Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Middle Earth Cartography, part 4

Part IV Cartographic sources of errors

If we take the notion of ‘Europe is Middle Earth’ as a fact, and if we try to seek the smallest changes required to transform one to another, the best source of transformation would likely be that there wouldn’t have been any actual physical transformation. We know that the current maps of Europe are pretty accurate within limits, but could it be the maps of Middle Earth are not? Looking at the maps of Middle Earth, there are pretty vast areas that look much uncharted. Some maps do have topographic lines or equivalent, but if we take out all the text in the maps, we see that there is not much detailed info on many areas. Where is Rhosgobel? How many rivers and streams go unmarked in the maps? Are there regular settlements in southern Eriador or Enedwaith? Where are the villages of Dunland? [map: blank map of Middle Earth]

This is only natural. Frodo Baggins, who is assumed to be the drawer of the original map, would have naturally concentrated to the areas he himself had seen. No doubt there were better maps of elvish make extant even in those days, but as we do not know the extent of library of Bag End, we cannot know if Frodo had these at his disposal. It could be that the elves would have kept the details of these secret, to keep their meeting places out of common knowledge. It could also be they didn’t have any more detailed maps but would have remembered the details by oral tradition.

In any case, it is possible that the map is entirely a work of Frodo the Hobbit. It could be even the coastlines of Middle Earth have been drawn from memory of some Gondorian or Rivendellian map. There’s little doubt he knew the Ea(rth) was made round (Ea r(ounde)th) when Aman was taken to another planet, the friendship between him and Aragorn and Elrond would have pretty much guaranteed this. This presents some problems in drawing maps as most educated people today know.

It looks like that notable cartographic distortion can be found on the maps of Middle Earth. These entirely normal errors in making maps are generated when transposing the surface of a ball to the 2-dimensional flat surface. This cannot be done so the finished map would retain areas and shapes and directions accurately. On the maps of the Middle Earth, the patterns of distortions are not entirely clear to me, and I gladly leave this task to some skilled geographer with good knowledge of maps and their projections. What I can say, is that the distortion is evident at least in the east and north of the map. Partly, the distortions might be a result of uncertain information, we really do not know much of these areas. Only Aragorn and Curunir have been known to travel far outside the areas we know.

In the normal 2-d maps of earth, the areas near the borders of the maps change shape, they might twist and get seemingly longer or shorter, fatter or thinner. Also the distances between locations here get altered, so many many maps abandon the distance scale all together. Nowadays though, we can express an area the size of Europe pretty accurately in distances and directions and shapes by using fe. the trimetric Chamberlin projection or equidistant conic projection, but the calculations involved are quite fiendish to do by hand (they’re not easy even with computers). Of the persons in third age there are but few scholars during the Age of Kings in Gondor, in addition to Curunir, who might have managed to draw and solve these. Acquisition of accurate distance measurements from all over Endor would still have been difficult.

We may thus assume J.R.R. Tolkien, or the drawer of the original map of Middle Earth, has used a projection that has been more simple to produce. These are plenty, and it might never get solved, which the projection exactly was. We though may note, that the rivers of Celduin and Carnen far-east in Middle Earth conjoin pretty much like Volga and Kama rivers in Russia. Their alignment on maps resembles the route taken by Vikings to the Constantinople, so the connection to medieval Europe can be found. Has there been Northmen in the Kingly guard of Gondor? The answer might be found in the remaining archives of Gondor.

Assuming the north parts of the maps are similarly condensed, we can show that the Misty Mountains reached further north and the Lake of Rhun located further east and south. Also, the Iron Hills may be located very much to the east of the conventional thought. This east-north-south distortion conveniently locates Erebor much more north than we usually think. Its location now though would be in Karelia, near the areas where the Finnish folklore of ancient times was collected. Missing a good alternative, I’ll propose that Lake Yanis in Karelia, is falsely interpreted as an impact structure, and is the location. Aule (with the help of Iluvatar) must have snatched Erebor, along with her inhabitants away from this Earth. Checking the areas of massive changes to the Middle Earth thus far described, leaves us a relatively stable area of Brown Lands, so the mixed people that was generated here, the Kurgans, were strengthened and are now, by some, interpreted as a birthplace of much of European cultures.

After these huge changes, the real one and the ones produced by the difficulties in map making, our map of the Middle Earth looks like the following. Without the knowledge of the projection used in the map of the Middle Earth, it is impossible to know how distorted the areas on edges of the map are, I have thus limited the correction of the distortion somewhat, partly also due technical reasons. The discovery of more exact correspondences between maps of Middle Earth and Europe is left to later and better cartographers. On the map, I have left the southern part of Misty Mountains to their original location, so the readers can more easily equate the modern and third age locations. It can be though quite easily shown (oh yeah) that their size corresponds quite exactly the size of the mountains still missing in the modern European map.

On the next part, that is maybe the second to last one, we’ll wonder how on Earth we can fit the British Isles to the location we have been told, and we’ll ask if this is necessary, on these times after the 1950s.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Middle Earth Cartography. part 3

Part III The Gap of Ents and the cleansing of Hithaeglir

There is no general agreement of the dating of the continental drift described in the previous chapter. But, all through history, there are sections of times, which have not been securely dated. The best possible dates for the continental drift to happen would though be during the late first millennium or the early second millennium of the fourth age. Of these, there’s an example earlier in this thread (ref. http:kontu.info) that mentions the period preceding the founding of the first dynasty of Egypt, or the first Intermediate Period of Egypt. There are some other possible solutions to this dilemma, but most of these would require the current accepted histories of Europe to be proven false, or made up, somewhat similarly to what the article in the periodical ‘Onion’ states of the ancient Greeks. .

Of course, we can calculate the necessary speed of the required continental drift, which would allow Umbar to be relocated to its current position, during the gaps of historical uncertainties. The Mediterranean Sea is about 4000km wide, and because Umbar was located approximately where Crete is now, we’ll get the necessary speed of continental drift by a simple calculation. 3000 km divided by 87660 hours (the 100 years of First Intermediate Egypt) is 3,4 meters per hour. This speed is of course enormous compared to what we see nowadays, but could we easily see that a huge island far out in the Ocean is moving at this speed? During a human lifetime, even this slow speed becomes certainly observed, but maybe the changes happening nearer-by have diverted the chroniclers’ attention.

We can use the same calculation to observe how fast the mountains, even mountain chains, might have lowered or grown, and we’ll get, f.e. the speed of lowering the peaks of Hithaeglir to the sea level to be c. 5500m/876600hours = 6 millimeters/hour. Again, we get a speed that, by human eye, might take even three years to notice. As time passes, this speed will get noticed, but can you always trust the tales of old men or women? These kinds of changes have though been very conducive in creating the folk tales and sagas of Gods’ works. We may for example ask, could the Epic of Gilgamesh have its origin in the destruction of South Gondor, or maybe the parting of the Iberian Peninsula from the other Middle East is the source? Is it possible that Persian Gulf was created during the same drift, and created this epic?

The most widespread change, aside the continental drift described above, that happened on Middle Earth during the 4th Age was the relocation of the material forming the southern, and indeed partly also, the northern Misty mountains. For this we may give thanks to Valar. For the mining opearations of the dwarfs in Moria, they noticed the Evil of Morgoth may reside in deep uncharted places on Arda. Hithaeglir was created by the Grand Evil, and thus was not intended to be a part of the original Song of Ainur. Thus during the fourth age the Valar and their folk turned the whole Misty Mountains around, to their former mirror image, in search of a second Balrog and other evil things. Now they know all the Misty mountain passes and where Orome may ride easily over them, if the need still be. The happenstance of Orthanc location, to be where Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest was, may be just that. The location of the palantir of Orthanc is though again unknown.

The ents had their share in the geological transformations of the Misty Mountains, the Last March of Ents got an appreciative reception among Valar, and they lowered the mountains near Isengard, Isengard. The Valar sought out ancient creatures in alliance with Saruman, but in part they did this work thanking the works of Onodrim. This way the entkind could visit their friends in Shire and elsewhere in Eriador much more easily. The information of this deed comes from Skinbark, who ‘suddenly found himself to be in a climate of a whole 1500m lower altitude’ It’s likely he had a direct connection to the representatives of Valar during these times, at least he’s been known to discuss with the eagles of the mountains every now and then. All the rocks, cliffs, mountains, stones, boulders, and even bedrock removed from the Misty Mountains ended up in various locations in the Middle Europe and the Scandinavian Mountains. (Laichalaf, the original writer, wasn’t present in the west during this time, he was seeking a way to travel to the continent which formed when the Walls of the Sun fell down, and he claims that no ent still hasn’t visited the Americas, who knows, maybe ent-wives have?)

Thus the Baltic Sea started to form. The lands of the Beornings began to submerge. So were destroyed the evidence of the hobbit habitations in these parts of the Earth, and even most of Lorien was drowned by the rising waters. Only the island of Bornholm reminds of us of the Mound of Amroth. The Beornings moved to higher grounds as Beorn himself had foretold and the Men of the Forest could resettle the Eryn Lasgalen. One saddish result of these changes is of course, very few people still believe that there are hobbits still living on their old grounds on the shores of Baltic. In the more eastern Endor, less changes happened and the northmen could still live in their Lake-town which by these times could be in the easternmost corner of the Baltic Sea.

As the Misty Mountains were turned upside down, effectively changing them to be made by Valar and not the great enemy, the evidence of elven realms somewhere around the fjord of Oslo has also disappeared. The map presented later in this study, places Rivendell somewhere around Åmål in Sweden, and this obviously cannot be true. In any case, even if the changes would have happened in just 6mm/hour, the archeological evidence of the foundations of the buildings would be very hard to impossible to find, at least in somewhat intact form. Thus it is not hard to believe the newer religions have taken a foothold among men. For animals, the choice of the nesting site would have presented some difficulties, but many of them build a new nest every year.

In cartography, one of the difficulties is the wide variety of different projections, so a full one-to-one equivalence between maps of Middle Earth and Europe is hard to find. Without knowing the methods which J.R.R. Tolkien used in achieving the projection presented in the Book of Westmarch, this might be impossible. In the next part, we’ll take a look on these difficulties and seek out sources of more potential inaccuracies of the directions, distances and scales in the usual maps of Middle Earth.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Middle Earth Cartography. part 2

Part II The formation of the Mediterranean Sea and the destruction of Mordor

In the early 1930s, when Tolkien was beginning his translation of the Lord of the Rings, the theory of continental drift was circled in academies, but the mechanism to move the continents proved difficult to be find. No one had seen the continents move. Later the theory evolved into modern plate tectonics, and currently this is accepted by all but most fringe scholars. The current theory states the movement of continents is always slow, but has it been always so? During the early 1900s there also emerged an understanding of how large was the destruction caused by the War of Wrath, as the scholars learnt how to trace the remnants of the Ice Age in the landscapes. Thus it is no wonder that continents and parts of them can move. That we haven’t seen any fast movements in recent times, doesn’t mean these couldn’t happen, especially so, if the Great Ones lead by Aule and Tulkas, maybe even Eru, would promote these. It took a while for the people in the Middle-Earth to notice, that the Great Ones of Arda removed a whole continent of Aman away from the planet! But, in this world teeming humans, one would think some oral histories of the great changes of 4.A., if not a direct written account, would remain to our time from those early days. We can of course think Eru has touched It’s creation to diminish the memories of the horrors, Sauron and Morgoth, in people’s minds, but is even this enough of an explanation to the lack of memoirs of these changes?

From the map depicted in Part I, we saw that Gondor must have experienced huge alterations in geomorphology after the War of the Ring. These changes include the turning of Anduin the Great, towards the plains of Mordor, the birth of Adriatic and Aegean Seas, and the sudden appearance and inclusion of the Iberian Peninsula to the lands of NW Middle Earth. Of the more southern lands of Endor, we know little of, we can’t even say how far west Harad and Far-Harad reached during the third age. Really, the only area we know something of, in the south, is Umbar. The early maps of the Endor J.R.R. Tolkien presented us, show though the Far-Harad somewhat resembles Africa, but as I do not have the books (though I’ve read them in the past) that describe and explain these, I can’t say much of what has been actually said about these far out lands. The same goes for Hildorien and Cuivienen, that have undoubtedly located somewhere in the far-east, there are several Bays bordering the Pacific and Indian Oceans, whence it would take several years to walk to the western shores of Endor.

On the same map the Andrast Peninsula is located where the Pyrenees would currently be. It’s shape, and size, though corresponds almost one-to-one with the southern part of the Apennine Peninsula. This is the first clue of the vast changes in former Gondor territory. Thus the Andrast would move in front of the Belfalas Peninsula to form the characteristic ‘boot of Italy’ (Calabria, Basilicata, parts of Campania and Apulia). The Belfalas Island located here would need to go, and as we check, it’s form and size is almost exactly the same as for Corsica. The other possibilities, Sicily or Sardinia, are not as close matches. For our purposes, we might assume that Tolfalas is Corsica.

The indisputable lack of areas of Spain and Portugal in the normally shaped maps of Middle-Earth, could get an explanation from the fastest and most far-reaching movement of continents during the fourth age. In this event, three gross, huge, use whatever extreme adjective, divergent faults form between the Umbar territory and other parts of Near-Harad. The southern part of the eastern fault, by chance, resembles the Red Sea- East African Rifts. Thus the whole of the hither lands currently forming Africa and Iberia, would move to their current locations. I assume J.R.R. Tolkien meant Umbar as being on the location of current Lissabon, which has a great natural harbor and was a strong competitor as a sea power for English ports in the more modern history. Thus we can explain the formation of the eastern part of the Mediterranean, as the size of Iberia is comparable to it, and state that Madrid, Jerusalem and Jericho were among the chief cities of inland Umbar territory. Believe that if you will. As the continental drift continues, the rest of the Mediterranean Islands drop on the way from the main body of Iberia. Thus we get all the rest of the lands from Cyprus to Balearic Islands. Yeah, right.

A certain amount of faith is also required for other changes that would have happened in Gondor. Minas Morgul might have been destroyed so no stone was upon stone, but could we believe a whole mountain, or several, would have been lost from under Shelob’s Lair and the Pass of Morgul? This, at least, is required that lower Anduin would have carved a new path from the Iron Gates of Romania, to form the lowest Danube. Is this a co-op by the dwarfs and Aule? Has the fierce Tulkas added waters flowing to Mordor, and fallen down and moved Ered Lithui to the location of Caucasus? Additionally, some large clan of dwarfs must have dug an enormous channel of the Dardanelles and all the other channels of Turkey all the way to the Aegean Sea! The south Gondor hasn’t endured this amount of godly and other work, but has been destroyed in eastern parts and created the Greek lore of Gods! But even this won’t explain the presence of the Adriatic in modern maps. We can only guess what has happened to the shores of Lebennin. Extensive areas of it are now resting in sea. This must though, in my opinion, have something to do with the formation of the mountains surrounding Adriatic. I for one cannot believe Aule or Tulkas would miss a hit so badly, soI can’t provide any other explanation for the Adriatic, than a Judgement of Eru for the inhabitants of coastal Lebennin. Why this would’ve happened I can’t say.

On the map below, these changes to the southern Middle Earth are brutally smashed together, and the most uncertain part of the theory has been told. We may for example guess that Umbar experienced a revolution by Eru-minded slaves and was rewarded by the movement toward west, to be included in the areas of free peoples. This theory neatly explains the oxygen-depleted water of the Black Sea, which would be a result of the drowning of the toxic mine waste and other sludge in Mordor, made in Sauron’s time. Oh, yeah. A teeny-weeny bit of faith is required.

[Kartta 3, Laichalaf]

On the next part, we move some other mountains and mountain chains, and we’ll wonder why the upper Anduin had to be drowned under the Baltic Sea. Some talk of Eriador maybe present too.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Middle Earth Cartography, part 1

(translation and partial rewrite of the articles in the Finnish Tolkienist's-forum Kontu)

The Geographical Transformations in the 4th Age


“The northwestern parts of the Middle-Earth correspond to the Europe and its ancient past”. This we have been told since the 1950s, when J.R.R. Tolkien got his translation of the Red Book of Westmarch, also know as the Book of Thain, completed. We have also been told some details of the more exact locations of European places on the map of the Middle-Earth. This makes it very intriguing to try to find a good projection to match the two the best possible way, as this could allow the history of earth to be connected to the history of Middle-Earth, so that the former would follow the latter.

As Middle-Earth has seen some large geological transformations in the earlier ages, instigated by Eru or the Mighty Ones, Valar, I see no reason why these kinds of seemingly sudden transformations should stop right after the history described in the Lord of the Rings. There’s though no doubt that f.e. the Fall of Numenor has been a cataclysmic event, but there are some doubts of the Sinking of Beleriand, was it fast or did it happen gradually during the early 2nd age? What has happened, geologically, to the Walls of the Sun, during the Rounding of the Earth? This study won’t touch these matters, but instead, tries to find a new way to connect Europe to Midde-Earth, as many have tried before.

There are several difficulties in achieving this task. For one thing, the Roman maps locating and describing the structures on Iberian Peninsula make it difficult to believe the transformations would be medieval. There’s nothing resembling Iberia in the standard maps of Middle-Earth. Thus the ”modernization of the northwestern Endor” would need to be placed to the prehistorical or very early historical period. One excellent example of this has been published in the paper Mallorn (http://3rings.webs.com/chronology), and this has even been accepted to en.wikipedia as a source. In the following, I’ve taken this dating of the War of the Ring as a fact. The periodization of later Ages has been changed here to conform the common C.E. counting of years, to get normal years, count forward from 3012 B.C.E.

Part I

As was stated in the preface, the Valar and Eru were the sole source of geomorphology in the Middle Earth. Indeed, if we compare the shapes of northwestern parts of Endor and the current Europe, the overlay is pretty poor. Thus it seems likely some great changes have happened after the end of the Third Age (T.A), and as the modern science has been lacking the ability to connect these, the likely mediators of the changes that would have had to happen would likely be the same.

On most of the maps we have on Middle Earth there’s a scale drawn. The scale on most of these is drawn by miles, by which we can estimate the travelling distances of the Nine Companions, or compare the speed and endurance of Shadowfax to the modern day horses. That Shadowfax clearly runneth, at it’s best, at the approximate speed of a steam-powered local train during the early 1900s, would indicate the magic on our days has waned. There’s though another explanation for the speeds measured this way. That is, the measurement systems have changed from those days of the Unified Kingdom, when the original maps of Middle Earth have been made. There are other possible sources of errors in the maps, many of which I’ll source in this explanation of the geological developments during the Fourth Age (4.A)

I’ll highlight two of these here:

1. On various translations other archaic measures of lengths are used, f.e. the Finnish translation uses the word ‘virsta’ (rus:versta) which historically has been almost anything from 1067 m to 1784 m and may have sometimes been double of that. Can we be sure that the Translator had got the lengths of the Middle Earth measures correct?
2. The relative sizes of the Peoples inhabiting Middle Earth. Could it be that they used their own measurement systems, i.e. was the elbow-length (that is, ell or cubit) of hobbits the same as it was for the men, let alone ents? The same would go for the longer measures of length. Are the measurements in Gondor the same as in Shire? Are the peoples in Lord of the Rings talking by their own measurements or by a common standard?

We all know of the maps of Middle-Earth projected on Europe, in which the adaptation has used the given measures, be it in current miles or ‘virsta’s, pretty much exactly. Here depicted is one of them [1] http://i.stack.imgur.com/GtiS8.png . On another attempt, the projection of the map has been mathematically altered somewhat [2] http://rhodesmill.org/brandon/static/2009/google-middle-earth-corrected-big.jpg . For one, the Misty Mountains do not conform to anything in the modern day Europe. Thus it might be better to seek the least amount of changes necessary, to get the current map of Europe from the map of the Middle-Earth. But, these kinds of maps are of course ok, if you assume Eru has almost completely reworked the northwestern parts of Endor after 3102 BC.

J.R.R. Tolkien was English, but a catholic. As an Englishman, the natural choice of miles, as a measure of distance, is given. But, as a catholic, he might have had mixed feelings of the metrification process happening during his lifetime in most catholic countries. Only Ireland continued to use the imperial measurement system. Thus it might be, he used miles on the areas using miles, and changed to using kilometers as miles as the Nine Companions had traveled far enough from the countries depicting England. If we use the scale given by Tolkien, but so we make a kilometer-scale to the map, and then change the word ’kilometers’ back to ’miles’, we get the the European map to shrink by c. 38% of the real. Said another way, we should multiply the map of Europe by 0,62. Already, this alters the look of the fit between the two and changes the position of current countries projected to the Middle Earth map, considerably. The following map depicts the size of Europe to Middle Earth calculated this way. As we see, vast areas of the east get covered by the map of Middle Earth way better than before, and we can even see some of the features of the maps conform pretty well to each other. The most notable of these is the form and size of Ered Nimrais, which resembles the Alps pretty well. Much of Eriador seems though to have sunk under water, more of this later on. . [2, Laichalaf]

It is still though evident that Europe does not fit well to Middle Earth, thus we know a Godly intervention has happened. Especially, the formation of Adriatic Sea would need to be explained by direct intervention by Eru.

As said, the differences between the current Europe and the prehistorical Middle Earth, can be explained by the interventions by Valar and Eru. They have though been rather hesitant to use their force and might all through times. Even, to defeat the manifestation of evil in the Third Age, Sauron, they sent in Maiar-spirits, though they likely could have fast, efficiently and easily defeated Sauron themselves. It is possible they did not want to shake the minds of the peoples to become like the peoples adopting the Cargo-cults in the far-east. Why do anything, if a supreme power, be it machines, supreme culture, or Godly one, shows this to be unnecessary, useless or done in vain? The bravest, most active and noblest peoples of Middle Earth might have become similar aboriginals, selling local handwork to passing tourists or gods. I for one wouldn’t want to see the Dwarf smiths living on shacks by the roads selling bad copies of Nauglamir to the passing British soldiers or their fiancées. Nor, see Aragorn to perform a traditional Bulgarian sword folkdance imitating the capture of the bride in the marriage ceremony, and afterwards asking a direct donation, to support local cultures or to get money to feed ‘the modern Eldarion’.

Hrmm-hmm-huum, got a bit carried away there. In the next installment I’ll describe some of the changes that occurred during the 4th Age in the southern parts of the northwestern Middle Earth, and start to provide an explanation of why there are very few historical accounts of these.

(This might still be reworked to include the images, working links and the text might also be worked somewhat)