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Things You Didn't Know About Life In Middle-Earth

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Vote up the details you never knew before.

A brand-new Tolkien work, The Nature of Middle-earth, just dropped - and dropped knowledge about life in that amazing fantasy world. This collection of previously unreleased Tolkien writing focuses on the logistics of Middle-earth - the stuff going on behind the scenes of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Many of the following Middle-earth life facts are from that book, while the rest are sourced from other Tolkien works. Whether you're a fan of the books or movies or both, these facts are bound to surprise you.

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  • 1
    785 VOTES

    Hobbits Were Hunted By Men For Sport

    Hobbits Were Hunted By Men For Sport
    Photo: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring / New Line Cinema

    At one point in history, Hobbits were such marginal creatures that Men hunted them for fun. This info comes from Tolkien in The Nature of Middle-earth:

    The much later dwindling of hobbits must be due to a change in their state and way of life; they became a fugitive and secret people, driven as Men, the Big Folk, became more and more numerous, usurping the more fertile and habitable lands, to refuge in forest or wilderness: a wandering and poor folk, forgetful of their arts and living a precarious life absorbed in the search for food and fearful of being seen; for cruel men would shoot them for sport as if they were animals. In fact they relapsed into the state of "pygmies." (180)

    There's real historical precedent for the persecution of pygmies.

    785 votes
  • 2
    841 VOTES

    Gondor Has A Currency Called The Castar

    Gondor Has A Currency Called The Castar
    Photo: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King / New Line Cinema

    Not much is said about currency in the Tolkienverse. Coins are referenced here and there in the main stories, but never with much detail.

    However, Tolkien gets extra-specific about money in The Peoples of Middle-earth, where he names the chief currency of Gondor, the castar, and its lesser currency, the tharni, which is a quarter of the castar.

    841 votes
  • 3
    607 VOTES

    Dwarves Farmed And Invented A Type Of Plough

    Dwarves Farmed And Invented A Type Of Plough
    Photo: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey / Warner Bros. Pictures

    Fans have long wondered how cave-dwelling Dwarves get their food. Some of them considered Tolkien's reticence on this matter to be an error in his world-building. However, in the newly released The Nature of Middle-earth, Tolkien finally put that question to rest:

    The Dwarves had an agriculture - which in early times they practiced when isolated and unable to buy grain etc. by barter. They had invented a “plough” of some sort - which they dragged as well as steered themselves: they were tough and strong - but they did not delight in such labour of necessity. (263)

    607 votes
  • 4
    678 VOTES

    Elves Don't Celebrate Birthdays - Only The Days They Were Conceived

    Elves Don't Celebrate Birthdays - Only The Days They Were Conceived
    Photo: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring / New Line Cinema

    Birthdays are irrelevant to Elves. Instead, they celebrate their "begetting days," which is the day each was conceived.

    Conception and birth are often exactly a year apart, though, so the celebratory day is usually the same.

    678 votes
  • 5
    629 VOTES

    For Elves, Sex Is Marriage

    For Elves, Sex Is Marriage
    Photo: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring / New Line Cinema

    Elves become married through sex. Although other marital ceremonies are encouraged, such as exchanging rings and getting parental consent, sex is sufficient:

    ...it was at all times lawful for any of the Eldar, both being unwed, to marry thus of free consent one to the other without ceremony or witness... in flight and exile and wandering, such marriages were often made. (Morgoth's Ring, 212)

    629 votes
  • 6
    546 VOTES

    Elves Nearly Always Mate For Life

    Elves Nearly Always Mate For Life
    Photo: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King / New Line Cinema

    Elves are nearly always monogamous, which is remarkable when you consider their potentially infinite life spans. One exception is Finwë, who married twice.

    While Elves begin their marriages with a high sex drive, that passion dwindles and they spend the rest of their union on hobbies (many married earthlings can relate).

    546 votes