Middle-earth is the name used for J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional ancient Earth where the stories in his legendarium take place. "Middle-earth" is a literal translation of the Old English term Middangeard, referring to this world, the habitable lands of men. Mythologically, the Endor continent became the Eurasian land-mass after the primitive Earth was transformed into the round world of today. Although Middle-earth's setting is often thought to be another world, Tolkien actually conceived it as a fictional period in our Earth's own past 6,000 to 7,000 years ago.
The history of Middle-earth is divided into several Ages: The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings deal exclusively with events towards the end of the Third Age and at the dawn of the Fourth Age, while The Silmarillion deals mainly with the First Age. The world (Arda) was originally flat but was made round near the end of the Second Age by Eru Ilúvatar, the Creator.
The history of Arda, J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional universe of Middle-earth, is divided into three time periods, known as the Years of the Lamps, Years of the Trees and Years of the Sun. A separate, overlapping chronology divides the history into 'Ages of the Children of Ilúvatar'. The first such Age began with the Awakening of the Elves during the Years of the Trees and continued for the first six centuries of the Years of the Sun. All the subsequent Ages took place during the Years of the Sun. Most Middle-earth stories take place in the first three Ages of the Children of Ilúvatar.
Music of the Ainur Main article: Ainulindalë
The supreme deity of Tolkien's universe is called Eru Ilúvatar. In the beginning, Ilúvatar created spirits named the Ainur. Ilúvatar made divine music with them. Melkor, Tolkien's equivalent of Satan, who was then one of the Ainur, broke the harmony of the music, until Ilúvatar began a third theme which the Ainur could not comprehend since they were not the source of it. The essence of their song symbolized the history of the whole universe and the Children of Ilúvatar that were to dwell in it — the Men and the Elves.
Then Ilúvatar created Eä, the universe itself, and the Ainur formed within it Arda, the Earth, "globed within the void": the world together with the airs is set apart from Kúma, the "void" without. The first 15 of the Ainur that descended to Arda, and the most powerful ones, were called Valar, and the Ainur of lesser might that followed were called Maiar.
Here are some open tasks for WikiProject Middle-earth. Feel free to help with any of the following tasks:
Collaboration: Return Middle-earth to featured status, make Lord of the Rings a good article.
Cleanup: List of Hobbits, List of hobbit families, Second Age
Copyedit/extensive work: Círdan, Meriadoc Brandybuck, Valaquenta
Create: J. R. R. Tolkien: A Descriptive Bibliography, Kay Miner, Tolkien's View: Windows into his world
Expand to separate pages/list entries: Alliterative verse by J. R. R. Tolkien, Art inspired by J. R. R. Tolkien
Stubs: The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, Tolkien Studies
Provide references: The Notion Club Papers
Add secondary sources: Númenor, Moria (Middle-earth)
Current topics (may need updating): The History of The Hobbit, The Hobbit films
Merge into: Minor places in Middle-earth, Minor places in Beleriand
Other: See the Things to do page, update a Random article , or review recent changes