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After reading a question (or was it elsewhere?) discussing which Rings of Power were made first, it caused me to wonder which item (not just the rings) is the oldest. There are various ancient artifacts that have endured in Middle-earth through the Third Age.

For example, there are the 9, 7, 3, 1 Rings of Power, Palintíri, Aragorn's ring and his other heirlooms, Narsil, Phial of Galadriel, and so on. I'm sure there are many others I don't know of.

What is the oldest object in Middle-earth that has endured until the end of the Third Age (including the One Ring which was destroyed just before the end of the TA)?

Edit: I'm debating in my mind if the Silmarils count or not since they really didn't "endure" to the end of the TA. One is a star now which really isn't an artifact anymore. I'm open to a compelling argument either way.

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    Do living beings or locations count? If so, the answer has got to be Tom Bombadil of course. – J Doe Mar 9 '17 at 3:30
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    The Silmarils are prophesied to be unbreakable until the ending of the world, whereupon they may be used to revive the Trees. So they're still out there, but the question is does accessibility count. – Ber Mar 9 '17 at 4:14
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    @Edlothiad: Bombadil calls himself "Eldest", and claims that he was there when the Elves first came west... – DevSolar Mar 9 '17 at 9:22
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    @DevSolar, "And even in a mythical Age there must be some enigmas, as there always are. Tom Bombadil is one (intentionally).". Tom Bombadil is. There's no conclusive evidence to his age, or to where he came from. He just is. – Edlothiad Mar 9 '17 at 9:44
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    Can't quote the books now, but someone says in Rivendell that even Bombadil would eventually fall, "last as he was first" or something similar. So based on that, he was first. – Angew Mar 9 '17 at 10:18
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The Silmaril cast by Maedhros into a chasm, is in Middle-Earth, deep in Middle-earth in fact; and is one of the oldest objects in it, having been crafted by Fëanor in the early-to-middle First Age during the Valarin Years of the Trees, before the Third Age of the Unchaining of Melkor. Each Valarin Year was something like 144 years of the Sun so that is quite a long while ago. The One Ring in comparison is only slightly younger than Elrond.

Maglor's Silmaril while not technically in Middle-earth (it is at the deeps of the Great Sea) is more theoretically accessible. However, these objects are prophesied not to be reclaimed until the breaking of the world and Dagor Dagorath.

Andúril, along with Angrist, is said to be forged by the dwarf-lord Telchar "in the deeps of time". Presumably this means in Beleriand, in the dwarf-kingdom of Nogrod before the birth of the Sun. (I always thought Angrist was of Valarin make, but apparently not.)

Anglachel and Anguirel also date to this stars-only period, being made of star-metal by the Dark Elf Eöl, a student of Telchar. Anguirel and Angrist are presumed lost (the dagger that pierced the Iron Crown of Morgoth, and Anguirel would have been lost in the wreck of Gondolin), but Anglachel definitely still exists somewhere since Túrin is prophesied to wield it against Morgoth in Dagor Dagorath. I believe it is broken like Narsil, though.

Of the other named swords (e.g. Ringil, Orcrist, Glamdring and the dagger Sting) only the former is probably of Valarin make, and the latter three are known to have been forged in Gondolin during the Siege of Angband, possibly prior to the Nirnaeth Arnoediad, the Battle of Unnumbered Tears, making them a measly 3-400 years younger than the Sun, so that doesn't count.

The Ring of Barahir is a sign of the House of Finrod Felagund and is definitely a Valarin jewel, crafted by the Noldor (possibly Finrod himself using gems greated by the House of Fëanor) deep in the Years of the Trees, making it older than any of the aforementioned swords, and more accessible than the Silmarils. It may be the only Valarin artifact you can touch.

The Elfstone given Aragorn by Galadriel (replaced by the Evenstar in the film) may be a Noldorin jewel from Valinor, making it an artificial gemstone and very old, but reset by Galadriel.

The Palantíri (the few that remain) were given to Men of Númenor by the Elves of Tol Eressea as a gift in the early Second Age. This suggests they were already on Eressea, and the count of seven suggest a connection to the sons of Fëanor who allegedly made them, plus they are said to connect to a stone at Avalloné on Eressëa and possibly the master-stone at Tirion in Valinor, suggesting they were made during the Years of the Trees.

The Nauglamír (the Necklace of the Dwarves) was crafted by the Dwarves (Telchar?) as a gift for Finrod Felagund. Húrin recovered it from the ruins of Nargothrond and gave it to Thingol in Doriath. Thingol had a Silmaril set on the necklace, and later had a not-insignificant falling out with the Dwarves who did the work for him. But this was lost when the Silmaril became a star, unless it was reset before then. Either way it's not in Middle-earth.

Durin's Axe uncovered by Balin in Moria may refer to Durin I, who governed Moria from shortly after the birth of the Elves (YT 1050, thousands of years before the Sun) until his death in the First Age, when it was passed on to Durin VI (eaten by Balrog). So that is possibly one of the oldest, but we don't know when it was made, or if it was indeed the axe of Durin I.

Of these, I would say the Ring of Barahir is the oldest artifact for which we have provenance.

'But Arvedui did not take his counsel. He thanked [ the chief of Lossoth ], and at parting gave him his ring, saying: "This is a thing of worth beyond your reckoning. For its ancientry alone. It has no power, save the esteem in which those hold it who love my house. It will not help you, but if ever you are in need, my kin will ransom it with great store of all that you desire."

Return of the King Appendix A: "Annals of the Kings and Rulers" I: "The Númenórean Kings" (pace Jason Baker)

P.S. If Anglachel is buried with Túrin then it still exists under a standing stone on the island of Tol Morwen (roughly the Mid-Atlantic). I cast Detect Treasure!

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    +1 for Detect Treasure. I'm glad your included Durins Axe. Although the provenance isn't entirely known it has to be one of the oldest still in ME and it's known to have been found by Balin, then lost again. Whether it is actually Durin the Deathless' axe or later Durin is debatable but most sources I've seen say it belonged to the Deathless. I'd like to also be a pedant note that Khazad-Dum wasn't known as Moria during Durin the Deathless' time. – SynchronizeYourDogma Mar 9 '17 at 5:09
  • There's also lotr.wikia.com/wiki/Sceptre_of_Ann%C3%BAminas, one of the oldest artefacts made by men. However, it is known to be younger than The Ring of Barahir, which is probably the oldest artefact of them all. – DisturbedNeo Mar 9 '17 at 10:08
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    Is Andúril old? It's a somewhat special case but I'd say it was created at the end of the third age when it was forged from the shards of Narsil, which were old. – SBoss Mar 9 '17 at 14:48
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    What "Valarin make"? What is that supposed to mean, certainly not being made by Valar 'cause non of these were? – Mithoron Mar 9 '17 at 18:14
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    @kingledion I have to go back and read it but I was under the impression that Gurthang broke under Turin's weight after he slew himself with it. I could be wrong though. – Ber Mar 20 '17 at 23:25
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The Palantiri are rumored to have been made by Feanor. If true, it would be hard to think of anything older. The Ring of Barahir (Aragorn's ring) also dates from the First Age, but I don't believe it is known exactly when it was made.

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    The Silmaril, casually sat on Eärendil's brow as he flies through the air. – Edlothiad Mar 9 '17 at 3:08
  • @Edlothiad I don't think any of the silmarils can be said to be in Middle-earth after the First Age though. – J Doe Mar 9 '17 at 3:26
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    @JDoe, well I mean technically, if we are still counting the sunken Beleriand, Maedhros' Silmaril was carried into a volcano in Middle-earth. Seems I misremembered about the Silmaril on Eärendil's brow. I'm going to stop answering/commenting till I've gotten some sleep... – Edlothiad Mar 9 '17 at 3:30
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The oldest objects would be: The Ring of Barahir and the Palantíri - both had histories that date back to the Years of the Trees, before the First Age.

The Ring of Barahir belonged to Finrod Felagund, given to Barahir.

There King Finrod Felagund, hastening from the south, was cut off from his people and surrounded with small company in the Fen of Serech; and he would have been slain or taken, but Barahir came up with the bravest of his men and rescued him, and made a wall of spears about him; and they cut their way out of the battle with great loss. Thus Felagund escaped, and returned to his deep fortress of Nargothrond; but he swore an oath of abiding friendship and aid in every need to Barahir and all his kin, and in token of his vow he gave to Barahir his ring.

The Silmarillion - Chapter 18: Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin

It survived the Downfall of Númenor and was held a heirloom of the Dúnedain.

It was pretty old, considering that the gems on it were found in Valinor:

His words were proud, and all eyes looked upon the ring; for he held it now aloft, and the green jewels gleamed there that the Noldor had devised in Valinor. For this ring was like to twin serpents, whose eyes were emeralds, and their heads met beneath a crown of golden flowers, that the one upheld and the other devoured; that was the badge of Finarfin and his house.

The Silmarillion - Chapter 19: Of Beren and Lúthien


The Palantíri were said to be wrought by Fëanor by Gandalf:

'No,' said Gandalf. 'Nor by Saruman. It is beyond his art, and beyond Sauron's too. The palantíri came from beyond Westernesse, from Eldamar. The Noldor made them. Fëanor himself, maybe, wrought them, in days so long ago that the time cannot be measured in years.

The Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers, Book 3, Chapter XI: The Palantír

These objects would therefore be the oldest in Middle-earth that are accessible. Anglachel (later Gurthang), the sword of Eöl the Dark Elf, later Beleg Cúthalion, and lastly Túrin Turambar, would be a good contendant as well as it still exists in the Stone of the Hapless where Túrin is buried, but one has to dig up the grave to retrieve it.

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