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History of Arda


Valian Years

Years of the Valar
Years of the Trees

Years of the Sun

Ages of Arda

First Age
Second Age
Third Age
Fourth Age

Dagor Dagorath

Timeline of Arda

The Valian Years was the time period in Arda after the Ainulindalë and prior to the destruction of the Two Trees of Valinor. Valian Years finally ended with the first rising of the Sun during the First Age. There were 5000 Valian Years, or 47,910 solar years, in history of Arda.[1]

The first 3500 Valian Years, that spanned between the coming of the Ainur to Arda and the creation of the Two Trees of Valinor, was called the Days before days.[1] Of that primordial time the Elves knew only what the Valar told them of it, for the Firstborn never witnessed its events, while the count of time was not established until the first blooming of Telperion.


Unlike other reckonings of time created by J.R.R. Tolkien to set his legendarium, the Valian years did not have a complete and definitive form. In the 1930s and 1940s Tolkien handled a length of the Valian year fluctuated slightly around a number of 10 solar years. In the notes to The Annals of Aman, Tolkien stated a single Valian year lasts 1,000 Valian days. Each of these Valian days is divided into 12 Valian hours, with each Valian hour having a duration equivalent to 7 solar hours. Thus, a single Valian year would last 84,000 solar hours. As a single solar year is approximately 8,766 hours, it was easy to calculate the precise equivalence of 9.582 solar years for each Valian year.[1]

However, in the 1950s , J. R. R. Tolkien decided to use a much larger measurement, 144 solar years for each Valian year (this concept was included in his Appendix D to The Lord of the Rings as the duration of yén, or Elvish "great year"). Furthermore, one Valian Day equals one solar year, and one Valian hour equals one solar month. This new value extended the time line already established by the author: the duration of the Flight of the Noldor, which was 5 Valian years, went from signifying around 50 solar years to being converted in about 700 solar years.[2][3]

Some studies suggest that these new durations would be too long if applied directly to existing dates, so the new definition should be understood as a new measure that is completely different from the previous one, and therefore not applicable to the dates noted in previous drafts of Tolkien's writings. Other authors are of the opinion that Tolkien describes time as flowing more slowly in Aman, such that a Valian year would "feel" like the passage of a single solar year, despite having a much longer "real" duration.


First War

Main article: First War

Melkor returns, by Stefan Meisl

After the Ainulindalë, when the Valar came to Arda, they found it flat and entitely lifeless. Melkor also was among them, but he claimed Arda for himself alone. Manwë denied his claims, noticing that Arda was the labour of all the Ainur in equal measure. He calls the many spirits, including Varda, to his own side from the deeps of to fight Melkor, and thus the First War ravaged the world. It was the first time when Arda was marred by Melkor's evil. He undid or marred whatever the Valar made, demolishing mountains they created, raising up their valleys and spilling their seas, ever hindering their plans. For many centuries, the Dark Lord prevailed, but news of the war reached the farthest deeps of Eä, where the many other Ainur remained. Among these spirits was Tulkas, who finally descended to Arda in VY 1500. Hearing his mighty laughter, Melkor fled before his anger in fear and escaped beyond the Walls of Night. Thus the First War ended in favour of the Valar, and Tulkas was counted among them. [1][4]

The Valar refashioned Arda for another four hundred Valian Years after the War, which lasted for 1500 Valian Years, and there was peace for a long time, since Melkor forsook Arda and brooded in the Outer Darkness for some time, holding a great hatred of Tulkas forever after. But still, there were many of his spies among the Maiar, who dwelt in Arda and admired Malkor's dark power and glory.[1][4]

Spring of Arda

Main article: Spring of Arda

Illuin: Lamp of the Valar, by Ted Nasmith

The initial shape of Arda, chosen by the Valar, was of a symmetrical continent. Needing luminance, the Valar found and collected the misty light veiled on the barren ground. The Valar concentrated this light into two large lamps, Illuin and Ormal. Then the Vala Aulë erected two great columns: one in the north, Helcar, and another in the south, Ringil. Varda filled them with light, and when Manwë blessed them, the world was lit by these Two Lamps, thus beginning the Spring of Arda, when the first living things started to grow, in VY 1900. The Valar dwelt in the middle of the world where the light of the Lamps mingled, at the island of Almaren amid the Great Lake. But Almaren was not the only kingdom built in this time: far to the north, the evil Maiar spirits gathered, and Melkor entered Arda once again, unseen to the Valar.[1][4]

In secret, while the Valar rested from their labours, Melkor raised the vast Iron Mountains and built his fortress Utumno beneath them. While Manwë ordained a great feast, at which Tulkas fell asleep, Melkor assailed and destroyed the Two Lamps. Thus, the Spring came to an end, and Arda was again marred, because the Lamps' fall forever spoiled the perfect symmetry of its surface. Afterwards, four main continents were created: Aman in the far west, Middle-earth in the middle and far south, and Land of the Sun in the far east. The site of the northern Lamp later became the inland Sea of Helcar, of which Cuiviénen was a bay.

The Valar settled in their second kingdom Valinor in the West and raised the Pelóri to protect it. In VY 3500, Yavanna created the Two Trees to light the western corner of Arda, beginning the new Valian count of time: the Years of the Trees.[1][4] The Years of the Lamps and Spring of Arda lasted for 1600 Valian Years in total, or 15,331 solar years.[1]


Year Events
VY 1 After the Ainulindalë the Ainur enter .

Creation of the elder stars by Varda.

The First War of the Valar against Melkor begins. Arda is marred.

1500 Tulkas enters Arda. Melkor runs from him and hides in the Outer Void.

The First War ends.

1900 The Valar settle at Almaren and create the Two Lamps, Illuin and Ormal.

The Spring of Arda begins: the first plants and forests grow, and animals are awakened.

3400 Manwë ordains a great feast, at which Tulkas weds Nessa

Melkor passes over the Walls of the Night and returns to Arda, raising the Iron Mountains and delving Utumno.

The rebel Maiar enter Arda following the summons of Melkor, including Sauron and the Balrogs.

3450 Melkor overthrows the Two Lamps, and Almaren is destroyed.

The Spring of Arda ends. Yavanna sets most living things into the Sleep.

3500 The Valar settle in Valinor in the West, raising the Pelóri, while Melkor rules Middle-earth.

Yavanna creates the Two Trees of Valinor on Ezellohar in Valinor, to give new light to Arda. The Years of the Trees begin.