Nûrniag flag of Mordor

Land of Mordor
Map of Mordor
Annatar and Sauron
Sauron before (left) and after the Downfall (right).
The Dead Sea of Nûrnen
The Dead Sea of Nûrnen
Mordor landscape
A Mordorian landscape.
Gates of Morannon
Gates of Morannon, by Alan Lee
Places in Mordor
Udûn and Gorgoroth
Barad-dûr
Minas Dûrlich
Durthang
Barad-wath
Places in Nurn
Nûrnen-dûr
Nûrumurl

Mordor


Mordor ("Land of Shadow") is a volcanic upland beset on three sides by mountain ranges: Ered Lithui, translated as 'Ash Mountains' in the north, Ephel Dúath, translated as 'Fence of Shadow' in the west, and the Nurn Mountains in the south. Only major entrances to Mordor are deep volcanic valley of Udûn in the northwest corner of Mordor and the plains of Nurnen in the east. Mordor was the historical dwelling place of Maia Sauron (also known as Annatar, Tar-Mairon, Gorthaur the Cruel), King of Men and enemy of Elves and Dúnedain, until the War of the Last Alliance in which he was slain on the slopes of Orodruin ('Mount Doom') and his fortress of Barad-dûr was eradicated.

The southern part of Mordor, Nûrn, is slightly more fertile, and moist enough to carry the inland sea of Nûrnen. Ash blown from Mount Doom has left its soil nutrient-rich, thus allowing dry-land farming. Nûrnen is 378 m (1,240 ft) deep, making it the deepest known hypersaline lake in Middle-earth. The Dead Sea of Nûrnen has attracted visitors for thousands of years. It was long known as a place of refuge for King Akil I of Haruzan, first Taskral monarch. Nûrnen has been a supplier of wide variety of products, from balms for Adûnai mummification to potash for fertilizers. People also use the salt and the minerals from the Dead Sea to create cosmetics and herbal sachets.

The Land


Mordor is a relic of the devastating works of Melkor, apparently formed by massive volcanic eruptions. It was given the name Mordor already before Sauron settled there, because of its volcanic properties. Shelob, the hideous offspring of Ungoliant, settled there three millenia before Sauron did. In her wake came Orcs, and later, various Easterling nomads. Nûrniag tribes have continuously lived in the area since the Second Age. They became a sedentary people living in small villages, cultivating cereal grains, peas and lentils and herding domesticated goats. Pottery-making technologies were most likely introduced to the area by craftsmen from Númenor. City of Nuurag-dûr first arose in between II 500-1000 as a centre for smelting copper and producing copper axes, arrowheads and hooks, with houses made of sun-dried mud bricks and roofs of wood, reeds and mud. Some were based on stone foundations, and many planned around large courtyards. The walls are often painted with bright images of masked men, stars and solar motifs.

Migration to Nûrn increased during second and third millenniums of the Second Age as Mordor became dwelling place for Maia Sauron, who called himself Annatar ("Lord of Gifts") or Tar-Mairon ("King Exellence"). Advent of Tar-Mairon brought advanced building methods, machinery, hierarchical society and organized religion to Nûrniags, who soon came to worship Sauron as God and King. Nuurag-dûr developed into a major cult centre and capital of the Nûrniag civilization. Town of Nûrumurl produced persimmon for fragrance and for export, using a secret recipe. "Mordor salt" was an essential mineral for holy incense in Harad, but was said to be dangerous for home use, and to cause blindness. Bitumen extracted from Nûrnen was needed by the Númenóreans for embalming their mummies.

Nuurag-dûr and three other legendary Nûrniag cities were destroyed in violent volcanic eruptions in the end of the Second Age. Three "Cities of the Plain" escaped destruction, but were later abandoned. Entire Nûrniag civilization collapsed when Sauron was overthrown and Nûrn descended into nomadic anarchy and pitiful desolation. The legacy of Sauron was, however, not erased from the collective memory: there is a specific prophecy in Nûrniag religion that the Dead Sea will "...be healed and made fresh" when Lord of Gifts returns.

The Númenórean forts and military towns surrounding Mordor were built during the first century of the Third Age by freed Nûrniag slaves. These towns had drinking water from sweetwater springs in the vicinity. King Eärendil the Great built or rebuilt several fortresses on the Ephel Dúath, including Durthang, where, in III 570-573, a small group of religious zealots held out against the might of the Dúnedain, and Cirith Ungol where (according to Cimrion Parmandil) Mírkano, founder of the Cult of Silence, was imprisoned by Tarannon Falastur.

Dwelling in caves along Ephel Dúath is recorded in the Gondorian Chronicles as having taken place before Elendil came to Middle-earth, and extensively at the time of the Last Alliance. After year III 1000, Nûrn was gradually conquered by several competing Variag and Nûrniag nations. Various sects of dissident Variags settled in Ephel Dúath and left behind an extensive library of scrolls. The remoteness of the region attracted also Gondorian hermits since the age of Ship-kings. Their monasteries in Nûrn and Gorgoroth were important places of pilgrimage to the Faithful until the Great Plague.

Gondorian presence in Mordor increased after Hyarmendacil I pacified Nûrn in 1044-1050 with help from his Variag mercenaries. Client kingdom of Nûrn remained tributary to Osgiliath until Kin-stife. A large tribute was levied from Nûrn to maintain the Traditionalist League. When pro-Eldacar rebellions wracked northern Gondor, king Castamir was forced to withdraw his Dúnadan regiments from Mordor. Remaining Variag contingents, rather than submit to notoriously anti-Easterling Eldacar, changed their allegiance to Tarkhans of Khand. Nûrn was officially annexed by great khagan Ovatha II in 1462 and has been a constituent part of the Variag Empire ever since.

GEOGRAPHY


Udûn. The name Udûn means "dark pit" or "Hell." It is the Sindarin form of the Quenya Utumno, which was the name of Morgoth's underground stronghold in ancient times. The name Utumno is derived from tum or tumbo meaning "deep valley under or among hills." The Udûn Vale is a deep, circular valley enclosed by the meeting of the Ash Mountains and Mountains of Shadow. It is entirely made of volcanic rock. The soil is rich with volcanic nutrients, but an extreme lack of water prevents all but a few hardy shrubs or bushes with deep root systems from clinging to the rocky terrain. The vale was possibly created when a massive block of stone sunk at the close of the First Age into a magma chamber located near the surface of the earth. The fluid magma welled up around the edges of the stone to form a circular ridge. In Gondorian folklore, valley of Udûn was formed during the fight between Morgoth and Fingolfin, when Morgoth swung his giant hammer Grond. At one end of the valley is the Morannon gate across Cirith Gorgor, the Haunted Pass, flanked on either side by the Towers of the Teeth. At the opposite end is the narrow pass called Isenmouthe, which is barred by a fence of pointed iron posts, an earthen wall, and a trench spanned by a narrow bridge.

PLACES TO VISIT

Morannon is the main gateway through Udûn to Mordor and Nûrn and biggest fortification in the Darkwatch - series of towers and forts designed to preventing monsters and orcs from leaving Mordor. The two towers of Morannon, called Narchost (west) and Carchost (east), were constructed after the War of the Last Alliance as one of the many defenses against the evils of Sauron. The garrison of Morannon watches over Dagorland and Talath Harroch, guarding and taxing caravan trade from Nûrn and Rhûn. The tower of Narchost (S. "Bitter-biting fort") houses Faithful volunteers, with services including a smithy, inn, baths, training houses and a tavern. The publican Galdor Salvi is in charge of customs and taxes, as well as selling drinks and provisions. The tower of Carchost (S. "Fang fort") houses the headquarters of the Morannon Garrison and the Darkwatch, military archives, water cisterns and the Market Halls operated by Uldis Maloren and his family. Nilwyn Merethil is in charge of the Morannon hospital reserved for the Faithful veterans.

The Stone of Sorrow was erected after the fall of Sauron in II 3441. Elrond and Isildur agreed to build a monument dedicated to Gil-galad and Elendil, as well as all those who fell in the War of the Last Alliance. The monolith was placed on the very spot where Sauron slew the two high-kings, and was himself slain by Isildur. Located upon the eastern slopes of Mount Doom, the Stone of Sorrow is a smooth, black three-sided basalt obelisk standing seven feet tall. On each side is a dedication to those who fought in the battle of Dagorlad and the Siege of Barad-dûr. Special plaque, with inscriptions in Sylvan, Sindarin and Adûnaic, is fashioned to Ereinion Gil-galad, Elendil Vorondo and Anárion. It is counted among the Seven Shrines of Westernesse. Having done pilgrimage to the Stone of Sorrow is considered the epitome of Dúnadan piety, due to the risks, toil and trouble that is traveling in Mordor.
Nûrnen-dûr, capital city of Nûrn, was first recorded by Dúnadan travellers in the 10th century. By the early 17th century, Nûrnen-dûr had become the capital of the Khanate of Nûrn, vassal state of the Variag Empire, ruled by a branch of the Ito dynasty. Most of the inhabitants are men of Nûrniag stock, but after the incorporation to the Khaganate of Khand, the region has had a Varadja-speaking majority. Nûrnen-dûr is split into two parts. The outer town is protected by a wall with 11 gates. The inner town is encircled by brick walls, whose foundations are believed to have been laid in the 10th century. A spectacular blue tower in the central square was constructed by Khan Sharmat-Varn, until he realized that if completed, the tower would overlook his palace and people would be able to see his wives. The city is famous for its copper, silk and incense trade.


TOWNSHIPS AND STRONGHOLDS OF MORDOR

Name Type Location Allegiance Notes
Morannon Castle and town Udûn Captain of Morannon Home of the Darkwatch.
Carach Angren Castle and town Udûn Captain of Morannon  
Durthang Castle and town Udûn Lord of Udûn  
Cirith Ungol Fortification Gorgoroth Captain of Cirith Ungol  
Minas Dûrlich Castle and town Gorgoroth abandoned  
Barad Nurn Fortification Gorgoroth abandoned  
Barad Wath Fortification Gorgoroth abandoned  
Rul City West Nurn Khagan of Nurn  
Nûrumurl City West Nurn Khagan of Nurn  
Urlutsu Nurn City West Nurn Khagan of Nurn  
Samkara City East Nurn Khagan of Nurn  
Kaalezh City East Nurn Khagan of Nurn  




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