I have always wondered are there more types of earths besides Middle. Is there an Upper and Lower?

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    According to modern tectonic plate theory, they SHOULD have been other continents. Thus was born en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Last_Ringbearer Commented Feb 28, 2013 at 21:33
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    I'm very disappointed that nobody has answered "No, but there is a Left and Right Earth"
    – Paddy
    Commented Mar 1, 2013 at 1:32
  • @Paddy, looks like someone took your suggestion, a year later scifi.stackexchange.com/a/48293/24067 Commented Aug 11, 2017 at 3:05
  • And Inner-earth and Outer-earth? A Left-earth and Right-earth?
    – Lexible
    Commented Apr 24, 2022 at 16:25
  • The old, traditional name for China is "Zhonggou" - which means "Middle Kingdom" (中 国). There was no "upper kingdom", nor "left/right kingdom". And Zhonggou could probably be more accurately called "Central Kingdom" (<sarcasm> being surrounded by barbarians who usually came to steal our treasure but ended up taking/adopting our [obviously superior] culture /s). Ethnocentrism is not unique to the Chinese, it is pretty common.
    – Tangurena
    Commented Jul 28, 2022 at 14:35

6 Answers 6


Until someone comes along with a better answer based explicitly on Tolkien's writing, I will simply suggest the link to the Norse Midgard.

Remember that Tolkien drew a lot of inspiration from Nordic sagas and myths, and Midgard is the Nordic name for the world of men, the one that stands in the middle of Yggdrasil the world tree. There are worlds below it and above it, ones inhabited by gods or giants, but this is the middle one, mainly because it was myths by humans and for humans.

  • Ok cool, thank you. Commented Feb 28, 2013 at 20:58
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    You might want to expand that Tolkien was writing a "missing legends of England" - as such, those legends didn't have to be logically or geologically complete. Commented Feb 28, 2013 at 21:39
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    I've always heard of Europe as being described as "Middle-Earth" in the medieval times.
    – PiousVenom
    Commented Feb 28, 2013 at 23:02
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    Mediterranean (as in sea) is literally "Middle-earth" - while Tolkien was inspired by Midgard, his "Middle-earth" was a continent on a world, not a world amongst many (as Midgard was)
    – HorusKol
    Commented Mar 2, 2013 at 11:38
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    Actually, the Mediteranean isn't "the middle continent", but rather the opposite. It's from latin "In the middle of land", and refers originally to the Mediterranean Sea, which is bounded by land from all directions except for small straits connecting to the Atlantic or other seas. The areas of land called the Mediterranean are the ones surrounding the sea and named for it. Tolkien couldn't really name his continent after a sea. Commented Mar 2, 2013 at 12:01

No. Middle-earth is a continent on Arda.

In J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium, Arda is the name given to the Earth in a period of prehistory, wherein the places mentioned in The Lord of the Rings and related material once existed. It included several seas and oceans, and the continents of Middle-earth, the Dark Lands, and Aman (The Undying Lands), as well as the island of Númenor and other lands, left largely unnamed by Tolkien.

  • What is the source? Commented May 25, 2014 at 3:20
  • this is actually the most apt and proper answer, middle earth is the central land mass on Arda. Arda was initially flat, middle earth being a continent on it had Numenor to the west, Aman (undying lands) to the far west and Dark Lands (morgoth's) to the south. After the fall of Numenor, Aman was cast of out Arda and Arda was made round, Aman only reachable by the elves and privileged few. Commented Mar 27, 2015 at 5:39

No, but there is a Left and Right Earth.

More specifically, there is an Eastern continent and a Western continent; Middle-earth is the one between the two (i.e in the middle), separated from them by sea on either side. The 1930's Ambarkanta contains a number of world-diagrams, including the following one, illustrating the concept:

enter image description here

Also refer to Letter 165:

'Middle-earth', by the way, is not a name of a never-never land without relation to the world we live in (like the Mercury of Eddison). It is just a use of Middle English middel-erde (or erthe), altered from Old English Middangeard: the name for the inhabited lands of Men 'between the seas'.


Middle-earth is generally regarded as a continent, if I remember correctly. Besides Middle-earth there is also Aman, where the elves (specifically the Noldor) came from, and Númenor, where Aragorn's ancestors came from.

  • Sort of yes, but not necessarily. They all started in Middle-Earth. The Elves were invited to Valinor and many went, some of the Noldor who went later returned. Similarly all humans started in Middle-Earth but a portion of the Edain (human 'Elf-Friends') were given Numenor as a reward for their helping the Elves in the First Age, but eventually screwed it up and some made it back to Middle-Earth after Numenor was destroyed. Commented Nov 7, 2020 at 14:48

Middle-earth is a continent within the larger domain of Arda, which is described as "Earth at some point in its prehistory" or something along those lines.

Arda was originally flat, until it was made round after the destruction of Númenor. If memory serves, the continent Middle-earth lay roughly in the center of the primordial, flat Arda (Arda Unmarred), although it is obviously impossible for it to be in the center of the spherical Arda Marred.

The other continents of Arda did not follow this naming scheme (Aman and so on), so no, there is no "East Earth" of "Left Earth" or anything like that.


Yes, all of Arda at creation was "flat".

Middle-earth was Beleriand to (roughly) the Mountains of Shadow. This Middle-earth was the land bathed in the light streaming from The Undying Lands (a.k.a. Aman) across the sea.

Beyond Middle-earth (going East away from Aman) were the lands seeing only the light of the stars at creation.

Middle-earth was the place of embarkation (e.g. the Grey Havens) for the First-born (Elves) - having awoken in the uttermost East under the stars and wandered West, drawn toward the light of Aman.

Númenor was created by the Powers (Valar) as a reward to those Second-born (Humans) who aided in the battle against Melkor/Morgoth. It was an island continent located nearer to Aman than Middle-earth but not in the Blessed Realm proper. Númenor (a.k.a. Atalantia in the Adûnaic language) was later destroyed by the Valar as punishment of the rebellion of the Númenóreans.

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