The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Dates
Began with the first rising of the Sun in I 1
Meaning
The count of time according to the passage of the Sun through the sky (as opposed the cycles of the Two Trees)

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  • Updated 19 September 2009
  • This entry is complete

Years of the Sun

The count of years from the first rising of the Sun

Encyclopedia of Arda Timeline
Years of the Trees First Age Second Age Third Age Fourth Age and Beyond

Since the destruction of the Lamps of the Valar in the far distant past, the Valar had dwelt for millennia in Aman under the light of the Two Trees, while the lands of Middle-earth had been lit only by starlight. That changed when Melkor and Ungoliant descended on Valinor and destroyed the Trees, plunging the land of the Valar into darkness.

Though the Trees were beyond healing, Laurelin the Golden Tree produced a single burning fruit before its end. The Valar set this golden fruit in a vessel, and sent it aloft piloted by a Maia named Arien. So the Sun rose for the first time in the West1 as the host of Fingolfin first set foot in the Middle-earth.

From that event began the count of time in Years of the Sun, based on the passage of Arien's burning vessel through the skies of Arda. The First Age of the Sun lasted less than six hundred years, and saw the Wars of Beleriand, and the ultimate defeat of Morgoth in the War of Wrath. The Second and Third Ages lasted more than three thousand years each, seeing the rise and fall of Númenor, and the ascendancy of Sauron in Middle-earth. Sauron's great victories and his ultimate defeat form the background of the history of those Ages. Little is known of the Fourth Age or beyond, but the Years of the Sun continued to the present day2.


Notes

1

Because Valinor lay in the West of the World, the people of Middle-earth first saw the Sun rise in the west, and not the east. At first, it was intended that the Sun should pass back and forth across the sky, and never set. These plans were changed, so that the Sun descended into Valinor in the West, and then passed beneath the Earth, rising again in the east, as it does today.

2

Tolkien speculated that we are presently living in the Sixth or Seventh Age. See the entry for the Fourth Age for more on this topic.

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