We know for certain (from Gandalf) that Treebeard the Ent is the oldest living creature on Middle Earth:

"Treebeard is Fangorn, the guardian of the forest; he is the oldest of the Ents, the oldest living thing that still walks beneath the Sun upon this Middle-Earth."
TLOTR Book 3, Chapter 5: The White Rider

"Treebeard is Fangorn, and the eldest and chief of the Ents, and when you speak with him you will hear the speech of the oldest of all living things."
TLOTR Book 3, Chapter 8: The Road to Isengard

But just how old is he? Obviously somewhere in the thousands of years, but I'm really curious to know exactly how old the oldest (and probably wisest) living creature in Middle-Earth is. Ent eyes are very deep, and Treebeard's eyes the deepest of all. How long have they seen?

  • I always wondered about that line. Based on the Silmarilion I always thought Galadriel was older than Fangorn. – SteveED Dec 29 '12 at 18:37
  • I would say the Fangorn predates her by a good 5,000 years or so. – Joe Casadonte Jan 1 '13 at 18:55
  • See also scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/11019 Who's older: Treebeard or Tom Bombadil? – b_jonas Feb 2 '14 at 22:30
  • @SteveED - Treebeard seems to think that all Elves, even Galadriel, are young whippersnappers, relative to himself. And Gandalf refers to Treebeard as "the oldest of all living things", and he doesn't make any exceptions to that - even for the Elves. – Wad Cheber May 11 '15 at 21:03
  • Gandalf was wrong. Because Bombadil, who as ever is the wild card. – Mike Scott Jan 21 '16 at 6:21
up vote 23 down vote accepted

Looking at the timeline from The Lord of the Rings Wiki, it looks like the time before the first age lasted around 18,000 solar years, and the Ents were created sometime early on in this period.

There also looks to have been at least 10,000 years after the Ents were created.

The First Age lasted about 590 years, the Second Age 3441 years and the LotR took place in 3018 of the Third Age.

So, 17,000 - 25,000 years, give or take.

well, Gandalf says he has wandered the earth for 300 ages of men. now, if we assume the average age is somewhere between 60 and 80 years, Gandalf is at the most 24.000 years old. Treebeard greets him, in The Return of the King, as "young master Gandalf"...

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    I can barely remember that they didn't have had magic in pre-industrial society. – Trollwut Feb 2 '14 at 23:36
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    @Richard While average mortality was indeed in early middle age, people who lived to be old were still moderately old by our standards. It's just that there was a lot of attrition along the way. – dmckee Feb 3 '14 at 2:27
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    That's true but the average generation was still only about 15-18 years. – Valorum Feb 3 '14 at 10:32
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    @Richard - You're forgetting that the primary reason average lifespans were so low was the enormous infant mortality rates - most kids died before their 7th birthday. If you survived childhood, you could expect to live to be 50, 60, or maybe even 70. The risk wasn't dying at age 40, it was dying at age 5. When 60-70% of people didn't live through childhood, the average lifespan was dragged down by infant mortality, not by adults dying when they were middle aged. – Wad Cheber May 11 '15 at 20:57
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    @WadCheber - Named characters are hardly a good analogue for the "average" man in Middle Earth. – Valorum May 13 '15 at 19:16

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