I’m currently reading through The Silmarillion, and there is this map's discrepancy that I cannot get my head around.

First, there was this sketch of Arda with a central landmass Pelmar, the west and east seas “Ear” which all made sense.

The World

But then, once the Lamps are built, an Isle of Almaren appears in the middle. And once Melkor breaks the Lamps, all of a sudden there are two mini seas in the middle of Arda. The Isle of Almaren is gone, and there's no mention of Pelmar.

The World about 500 V.Y

The only resemblance I see to Map 1 in Map 2 is the west and east seas that could be Ear from Map 1?

Maybe I’m missing a crucial in-between map, or I’ve overlooked some unillustrated terraforming that happened between the two maps?

  • 1
    While I'm assuming you saw these in the 2022 illustration by Tolkien edition of The Silmarillion, it should be noted that these maps were not intended to be compatible with that book, and are from an earlier stage in Tolkien's development process.
    – ibid
    Oct 15, 2023 at 0:17
  • Pelmar is right there on the second image.
    – Spencer
    Oct 15, 2023 at 1:15

1 Answer 1


Pelmar is just Middle-earth, and is actually mentioned in both of the maps you've shared

To see Pelmar on that second map, you'll need to rotate it sideways. Written across the center landmass is "PELMAR or MIDDLE EARTH".

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Another point of reference between the two maps is that they both contain a point in the middle of Pelmar labeled "Endor". (Translated as "Earth-middle" on the second map.)

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However, please note that these maps are from a much earlier development phase of Tolkien's writing, and are not meant to be compatible with the published text of The Silmarillion.

The maps in question were not created to accompany the published Silmarillion text. They were created to accompany a short work titled "The Ambarkanta", which was written c.1937, and which contained five five maps and diagrams. (The ones in your post are numbers 1 and 4, respectively.) The full work, together with all of its maps can be read in The Shaping of Middle-earth, along with extensive commentary by Christopher Tolkien.

I wouldn't recommend trying to match up details between the publish Silmarillion text and these maps.

  • You’re right, I’ve seen them from the illustrated edition. Thank you, this helps me relate the two maps relate a bit better. But what do you mean by ’these maps not intended to be compatible’, aren’t they and the book talking about the same world? Are there maps you would recommend as more compatible?
    – Coolpaper
    Oct 15, 2023 at 1:39
  • 2
    @Coolpaper - Tolkien's world was in a state of constant flux as he developed it over his lifetime, and anything he hadn't published yet was free game for him to change. The Ambrakanta and its maps were created around 1937. The relevant sections of the published Silmarillion are primarily based on material written around 1951. Tolkien changed his mind about things in the decade and half between those two points.
    – ibid
    Oct 15, 2023 at 3:20
  • 2
    @Coolpaper - And unfortunately, if you're looking for better world maps from Tolkien you're out of luck. The only other world maps we have from him are another two decades earlier than these. These are the latests ones available from Tolkien, just take them with a grain of salt, and expect some things to be different. (Though if you want some fan-maps, Karen Wynn Fonstad has some nice ones in The Atlas of Middle-earth that are closely based on these.)
    – ibid
    Oct 15, 2023 at 3:24

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