Númenor was a kingdom of Men, established on an island brought up out of the sea by the Valar in the early Second Age, after the final ruin of Beleriand. The culture of the Númenóreans originated there shortly afterwards.
Númenor was the kingdom of the Númenóreans and subsequently the Dúnedain, located on an island in the Great Sea, between Middle-earth and Aman. The land was brought up from the sea as a gift to Men. The place was called originally Elenna or the Isle of Elenna ("Starwards"), because the Dúnedain were led to it by the star of Eärendil, and because the island was in the shape of a five-pointed star. At the center of the island the mountain Meneltarma was used by the Dúnedain as a temple to Ilúvatar. The largest city and capital of Númenor was Armenelos. After the great war with the Dark Lord Morgoth, the Valar took pity on the House of Bëor for their sufferings.
Númenor had only two rivers: Siril, which began at Meneltarma and ended in a small delta near the city of Nindamos, and the Nunduinë, which reached the sea in the Bay of Eldanna near the haven Eldalondë.
Elros son of Eärendil was the first King of Númenor, taking the name of Tar-Minyatur ("First King"). Under his rule (year SA 32 to SA 442 of the Second Age), and those of his descendants, Men rose to become a powerful race. The first ships sailed from Númenor to Middle-earth in the year SA 600 of the Second Age.
The Númenóreans were forbidden by the Valar from sailing so far westward that Númenor was no longer visible, for fear that they would come upon the Undying Lands, to which men could not come.
Decline of Númenor
Over time the Númenóreans came to resent the Ban of the Valar and to rebel against their authority, seeking the everlasting life that they believed was begrudged them. They tried to compensate this by going eastward and colonizing large parts of Middle-earth, first in a friendly way, but later as tyrants. Soon the Númenóreans came to rule a great but terrorizing maritime empire that had no rival, but a few (the Faithful) remained loyal to the Valar and friendly to the elves.
But in Middle-earth in the year SA 1600 the Dark Lord Sauron (former servant of Morgoth), enemy of the Valar, deceived the Elven smiths of Eregion and forged a master ring. By SA 1693, the Elves and Sauron were at war and in SA 1699 the Elves were overrun. Númenor took notice and Tar-Minastir, King of Númenor sent a fleet to save Lindon and by SA 1701 Eriador was reconquered. Around SA 1800 Númenoreans started settling on the coast of Middle-earth in places such as Umbar. But Sauron extended his power and his shadow fell on Númenor.
In the year SA 3255, the 25th king Ar-Pharazôn sailed to Middle-earth. The Númenoreans came in such force that Sauron himself surrendered to their might. Sauron then poisoned the mind of the king and soon corrupted the Númenóreans, promising them eternal life if they worshiped Morgoth. With Sauron as his advisor, Ar-Pharazôn had a 500 foot tall temple to Morgoth erected in which he offered human sacrifices.
During this time, the white tree Nimloth the Fair, whose fate was said to be tied to the line of kings, was cut down and burned as a sacrifice to Morgoth. Isildur rescued a fruit of the tree which grew to become the White Tree of Gondor, preserving the ancient line of trees.
Prompted by Sauron and fearing death and old age, Ar-Pharazôn built a great armada and set sail into the west to make war upon the Valar and seize the Undying Lands (Sauron remained behind). In the year SA 3319 of the Second Age, Ar-Pharazôn landed on Aman and marched to the city of Valimar. Manwë, chief of the angelic Valar, called upon Ilúvatar, who broke and changed the world, trapping Ar-Pharazôn and his mighty host who landed on Aman in mounds of dirt and inside the Caves of the Forgotten until the last battle, taking Aman and Tol Eressëa from the spheres of Arda forever, changing the world's shape from flat to round and sinking Númenor and killing its inhabitants, including the body of Sauron who was thereby robbed of his ability to assume fair and charming forms.
Elendil, son of the leader of the Faithful during the reign of Ar-Pharazôn, his sons and his followers had been warned of the disaster that was to befall Númenor, and they had set sail in nine ships before the island fell. They landed in Middle-earth, and founded the kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor.
After its fall Númenor was called Atalantë, meaning "the Downfallen", in the Quenya language. (The similarity with Atlantis is obvious, although Tolkien described his invention of the name as a happy accident when he realised that the Quenya root meaning "fallen" could be incorporated into a name referring to Númenor.) Other names after the Downfall include Mar-nu-Falmar ("Land under the Waves") and Akallabêth ("the Downfallen" in Adûnaic).
The story of the rise and downfall of Númenor is told in the Akallabêth.
The ultimate fate of Númenor is unclear; whether it remained forever under the sea or, like Beleriand, it was recovered, as suggested by the final words of Galadriel to Treebeard at their parting at Isengard: "Not in Middle-earth, nor until the lands that lie under the wave are lifted up again. Then in the willow-meads of Nan-Tathren we may meet in the spring. Farewell!". It is possible that after the Dagor Dagorath, when according to prophecy the world would be broken and a new world made, Númenor would be recovered.
Of the Númenóreans
The population of Númenor chiefly consisted of Men of the surviving houses of the Edain, and they were known as the Númenóreans, or rather, Kings among Men. They had been increased in body and mind by Eönwë at the end of the War of Wrath, and granted a lifespan of an average 200 years, much increased from their ancestors' lifespan of 90 years. Those of the royal house descended from the first Half-elven king, Elros Tar-Minyatur, however, were given a lifespan of more than 300 years. These included the Lords of Andúnië and the Kings and Queens of Númenor.
The Númenóreans were extremely skilled in arts and craft, and in the forging of weapons and armour; but before the fall of the Shadow, they were not warmongers, hence the chief art on the island became that of shipbuilding and sea-craft. The Númenóreans became great mariners, exploring the world in all directions save for the westward, where the Ban of the Valar was in force. They often travelled to the shores of Middle-earth, teaching the men their art and craft, and introduced farming so as to improve their everyday lives. When the Shadow fell, however, the Númenóreans became more unneighbourly with the Men of Middle-earth. They levied heavy tribute from them and returned to Númenór with ships filled with spoil.
The Númenóreans became skilled in the art of husbandry also, breeding great horses that roamed across the open plains in Mittalmar. Although the Númenóreans were originally a peaceful people, their weapons, armor, and horse-riding skills could not be contested by anyone in Arda save for the Valar.
Númenor was a rather large island in the middle of the Western Sea. The island itself was in the shape of a 5-point star, each point having its own unique geological and physical features. Each point, therefore, was considered a separate region of Númenor and had separate names:
- Forostar (Northlands)
- Andustar (Westlands)
- Hyarnustar (Southwestlands)
- Hyarrostar (Southeastlands)
- Orrostar (Eastlands)
- Mittalmar (Inlands)
The island had a mountain in the centre known as Meneltarma. Meneltarma was the highest location on the entire island and was considered sacred by the Númenóreans as a shrine of God, Eru Ilúvatar. Only the Kings of Númenor were allowed to speak on the summit. It was said that on a clear day, Tol Eressëa, an island on the outer shores of Valinor, could be seen from the summit.
Meneltarma itself was a tall mountain in the centre of the island (in the region of Mittalmar) that, when translated, means Pillar of the Heavens. The lower slopes of the mountain were gentle and grass-covered; however, near the summit the slopes became more vertical and could not be ascended easily. The kings later built a spiraling road to the peak, beginning at the southern tip of the mountain and winding up to the lip of the summit in the north. The summit, however, was unique in that it was flattened and somewhat depressed, and was said to be able to "contain a great multitude". It was considered the most sacred spot of Númenor; no one ever set foot there and nothing was ever built there throughout the entire history of the island.
The island itself was tilted southward and a little westward; the northern coasts were all steep sea cliffs.
- Main article: Plants of Númenor
Númenor contained many species of plants that could be found nowhere else in Middle-earth, for many of them were given to the Númenóreans from the Valar in Aman. Most important of these was the White Tree that dwelt in the King's Palace at Armenelos; it was the symbol of Men thereafter, in Númenor, Arnor, and Gondor. The other parts of Númenor contained many types of plants, many unique to each of the promontories of the island. Andustar contained great forests of beech and birch at higher altitudes, and oak and elm forests on the lower. The greatest delight of the Númenóreans, however, were the flowers given to them by the Eldar. They grew mostly in the Western portion (Andustar). They are oft remembered in poems and lore, and few have flowered east of Númenor. Because of the diversity of evergreen and sweet-smelling plants in Andustar, it was soon called Nisimaldar, meaning 'Fragrant Trees'. Also, only in Andustar could the Golden Trees known as 'Mallorn' grow. In Hyarrostar grew the Laurinquë tree, which the Númenóreans loved because of their flowers. They believed that it came from the Great Tree of Valinor, Laurelin.
Númenor contained one bird that lived nowhere else: the Kirinki of Númenor. They were the size of wrens, were scarlet coloured, and had little piping voices.
- C.S. Lewis' novel That Hideous Strength makes a reference to "Númenor and the True West", which Lewis credits as a then-unpublished creation of J.R.R. Tolkien. This is one of many examples of cross-overs between the novels of Lewis and Tolkien, both of whom were members of The Inklings, a literary discussion group at Oxford University.
- "Númenor" is pronounced with a rolling r.
- Númenor's corruption and eventual fall bears a parallel with Charn, a world from C.S. Lewis's works, where the rulers of Charn had been initially benevolent and wise but later corrupted, cruel and evil, where, in an act of selfishness, the last queen of Charn and future White Witch (Jadis) caused the lands' destruction by uttering the Deplorable Word.
- J.R.R. Tolkien stated that three of the Nazgûl were Númenórean; in the non-canon Games Workshop models only two of the Nazgûl are identified as Númenórean: The Dark Marshal; and The Knight of Umbar.
- The story of Númenor is similar to that of Atlantis, a legendary city from Greek literature which, like Númenor, was destroyed and fell into the sea.
Coincidence with "Atalantë"
"Atalantë" was the name of Númenor after it fell into the Belegaer, making it a downfallen island. The naming for this may have been influenced by the tales of the legendary Greek civilization and island of Atlantis, which too was sunk after a long prosperous era of significance. Considering Tolkien's background, Atalantë's relationship with Plato's Atlantis seems to be an unfounded assumption since Atalante, daughter of Athamadas, is a person written of in Greek mythology by Hesiod.
Translations around the world
|Foreign Language||Translated name|
|Chinese (Hong Kong)||努曼諾爾|
アタランテ (Atalantë) エレンナ (Elenna) は「西方国」 (Westernesse)
|Kazakh||Нұменор (Cyrillic) Numenor (Latin)|
Анадунэ (Anadûnê) Андор (Andor) Вестернесс (Westernesse)
|Serbian||Нуменор (Cyrillic) Numenora (Latin)|
|Uzbek||Нуменор (Cyrillic) Numenor (Latin)|
|Amon Ereb • Brethil • Dor-lómin • Estolad • Ladros • Rhûn • Harad • Eriador|
|Arnor • Dunland • Gondor • Harad • Númenor • Rhûn • Umbar • Eriador|
|Arnor (later split into Arthedain, Cardolan, and Rhudaur) • Rohan • City of Dale (later became a Kingdom) • Dunland • Lake-town (later part of the Kingdom of Dale) • Gondor • Harad • Khand • Kingdom of Rhovanion • Rhûn • Umbar • Vales of Anduin • Greenwood the Great • Eriador|
|Kingdom of Dale • Dunland • Harad • Núrn • Reunited Kingdom of Gondor and Arnor • Rohan • Rhûn • Eryn Lasgalen • Khand • Eriador • Rhovanion • Vales of Anduin|