Lord of the Rings in Numbers: Part I

LotrProject has resulted not only in a gigantic family tree but also some very interesting numbers. Each character in the tree has been entered into a database which I have been updating with additional information during the past months. Since this is a part of the website in heavy development there will be a part II of this article in the future.

Statistics have always interested me. It will probably also be a big part of my future job as I am studying to become a Chemical Engineer. Since I am not yet educated in mathematical statistics which I hope will explain if you notice there are some important aspect missing. When showing statistics of the project previously I have made the decision not to comment them. Mostly because they are very difficult if not impossible to interpret correctly. However, I have now decided to take the risk.

Characters by gender and race

Characters by gender and race is perhaps the most obvious and important statistics you can extract from a data set of a population. It is also in some ways the most misleading. As you can see only 20% of the total number of characters is female with the highest percentage among Valar, Elves and Hobbits. The low number of females is not due to lack of females in Middle-Earth but due to the fact that Tolkien did not describe many of them. The Lord of the Rings is a work with a very medieval feel to it, filled with the horrors of war, which explains the high number of males. Among Men there are a majority of male rulers and since the lineages of the kings often only includes the rulers that too is an explanation.

It should be noted that there is only one female Dwarf described which may be an intentional move to add mystery to them. Both the Elves and Hobbits have a higher number of females than the race of Men. Tolkien wanted the Hobbits to seem interested in genealogy and their family tree is by far the most detailed and complex. Concerning the Elves I have a personal feeling that they regard the genders as being more equal than Men. Elven women are important to the Middle-Earth history in many ways.

Average lifespan

The races in Middle-Earth are defined by their lifespan. Shortly after launching the project back in January I realized I wanted to add birth and death dates to each character (if possible). I have now, a few months later, almost completed that task.

The above graph shows the average lifespan for each race. The elves have been excluded since they are immortal. When looking and interpreting these numbers there are a few things one must consider. The Hobbit lifespan of 96 years is most likely a very good estimation. The Hobbits are fortunately both well documented and relatively high in numbers. The life of a Dwarf is on average 195 years which is a bit lower than the 300 years I had expected. Most of the Dwarves Tolkien described, which were few, died in battle. This makes the number biased since it does not represent the entire population.

The most “odd” part of the graph is of course the average life length of Men. I do not yet have any good explanation for the low number in the first age other than early death in battle. There were also at least one child, Lalaith, who died at a very young age. Most of the characters described from the second age belong to the Númenóreans which means the 330 years probably is more representative for the Númenórean population rather than Men as a whole. The lower number, 146 years, in the third age probably come from two things. There is a higher number of men from other descents than Númenór, not blessed with their long life. There is also the fact that the Númenóreans life length have started to shorten.

I think to properly interpret the life span of the race of Men I must present more in depth statistics. In the future I want to show the difference between the different descents clearly to give a better picture.

Below you can see a list of the six longest living Men.

Oldest Men

500 years – Elros (Half-Elf)
421 years – Tar-Atanamir
412 years – Tar-Ancalimës
411 years – Tar-Amandil
411 years – Tar-Telperiën
410 years – Vardamir

More numbers to come

This is a completely new way of experiencing and perceiving Middle-Earth for me and I am very excited to see what is yet to come. There will be at least three more blog posts regarding this in the near future. The statistics presented here are also included in this more interactive page. It will be continuously updated with more accurate numbers as the project progresses.

I am sure you have your own opinions and requests for new/better statistics. Do not hesitate to contact me or comment below.

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Comments

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  1. For something as dry as number and statistics, this was a really interesting article – thanks!

    I think the trees were a special case, as in the Lord of the Rings movies, even the trees hadn’t seen a female tree :o)

  2. Pingback: Reading Journal: On Middle Earth, Mythology, & Victorian England … | Literature Blog

  3. Jon

    Love it! This is absolutely epic and awesome!

    One thing that would be very useful (once you have time) would be a Gantt chart-timeline showing all the elves of the first three ages, and when they lived and died. This way you could quickly compare the birth/death dates of, say, Cirdan and Galadriel.

    • Thank you Jon! That is an excellent suggestion. I hope to find the time to do that in the near future.

  4. THIS is an awesome and amazing piece of research!

    I see that you are still working on the Timeline and have many events left to enter. This is something a friend of mine put up a few years ago, which you might find useful:
    http://dana.lightindarkplaces.net/extra/taleofyears.htm

    I am fascinated by your work, and look forward to seeing more of it!

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