The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Dates
Apparently removed from the World in II 33191
Location
The distant eastern fringes of Arda

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  • Updated 18 January 2009
  • This entry is complete

Empty Lands

An unknown region to the east of Middle-earth

"For Ilúvatar cast back the Great Seas west of Middle-earth, and the Empty Lands east of it..."

A mysterious region in the distant east of the World. The Empty Lands are important because they apparently lay beyond the eastern boundaries of Middle-earth, and so give a vital clue to the structure of Arda.

According to the work known as the Ambarkanta (reproduced in volume 4 of The History of Middle-earth), beyond the eastern shores of Middle-earth, across the Eastern Sea, there was a distant place known simply as the Eastern Land, or the Land of the Sun. This must correspond with the Empty Lands of the Akallabêth, but the only specific detail we have of their geography is a mention of a tall mountain range known as the Walls of the Sun.

The Gates of Morning, through which the Sun rose, also lay in the distant east, and the geography of the Empty Lands seems to imply that the Sun's gate must have stood somewhere in this region. Indeed the name 'Walls of the Sun' suggests that the gates lay among the mountains, so for the Númenóreans to see them from their ships at sea, as we know they did, the gates must have been truly immense.


Notes

1

We know that the Empty Lands were 'cast back' (ibid) at the time of the Downfall of Númenor, but it's hard to be sure exactly what this phrase is intended to mean. They may have been removed from the World altogether, in the same way as Aman in the West, or they may have been reshaped to form parts of the World as we know it today. Whatever happened to the ancient Empty Lands, they certainly ceased to exist in their original form during the cataclyms of II 3319.

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