Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Populations of Middle Earth - The Earliest History of the Elves

I have an occasional series of posts that try to work out population estimates for periods of Tolkien's Middle Earth. I have the distant ambition of this one day turning into a complete set of population estimates stretching, as far as possible, from the Awakening of the Elves, up until the Lord of the Rings. Posts in this series discussing the Elves of Beleriand can be found here, or the populations of Gondor and Rohan here. The rest can be found by clicking the Tolkien tab at the top of this site.

One era I don't intend to estimate personally is the earliest history of the Elves, stemming from their awakening in Cuivienen until the Noldor's return to Middle Earth at the rising of the Sun and Moon. This is because I fully agree with Michael Martinez's estimates for that period given in this article of his from 2002 called:

Elves by the Numbers


And so there doesn't seem much point repeating (and basically plagarising) his estimates. He excellently covers the difficulties with producing estimates such as the status of the Imin, Tata, and Enel myth from Quendi and Eldar, the problem of the number of generations, etc.

The most important points are that he calculates that 144 Elves awoke at Cuivienen, and these had multiplied into 18,000 Elves by the time of the Great Journey, which broke down into "1780 Vanyar, about 3560 Noldor, and about 5850 Teleri"  who were the original Eldar.

I also think his final estimate that around 100,000 Noldor would've arrived in Beleriand at the first rising of the Sun can be reconciled with my estimate that the Noldor would've numbered around 300,000 just before the terrible 4th Battle, the Dagor Bragollach. 

If we assume that half the Noldor population were in their child-bearing period, and had a generation of children every 100 years of the Sun, we get a population multiplier of about 1.25 per century. This means that by about Year 100 FA the Noldor would've numbered about 120,000, in Year 200 - 170,000, in Year 300 - 200,000 and in Year 400 - 250,000 and by Year 450 we get somewhere in the region of my 300,000. When we include Sindar this gives a total Elvish population in Beleriand of slightly over 1 million.

This is admittedly not very precise or rigorous, but it's about as good as we can do with the very limited information we have, and brings us nicely to the start of my estimates that will hopefully, eventually span the First, Second and Third ages of the Sun, to as great a degree of detail as possible.     

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