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When Melkor is condemned to the prison of Mandos, it is for three ages.

There was Melkor doomed to abide for three ages long, before his cause should be tried anew, or he should plead again for pardon.

And

For it came to pass that Melkor, as the Valar had decreed, completed the term of his bondage, dwelling for three ages in the duress of Mandos, alone.

Are there any canonical references to the start and end points of the time periods called ages, during the Years of the Trees?

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  • Apparently, Morgoth was imprisoned from about 2900 years. You should read this reputable Tolkien site for more info.
    – Voronwé
    Jul 20 '17 at 8:37
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    I am shocked - shocked! - at the absolute lack of answers involving the counting of Rings.
    – RDFozz
    Jul 20 '17 at 17:24
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The Annals of Aman, published in History of Middle-earth 10, contain the following statement:

Thereafter the Valar counted time by the ages of Valinor, whereof each age contained one hundred of the Years of the Valar; but each such year was longer than are nine years under the Sun.

There are further statements throughout these Annals and associated texts that confirm: one Age equals 100 Valian Years.

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I point out that the two trees would grow brighter and then grow dimmer in an endless cycle, and that they alternated so that one was brightest while the other was dimmest.

So there were changes in light levels to form a basis for a Valian calendar. It was not just arbitrary lengths of time but time periods based on natural events.

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