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How Powerful Was Ar-Pharazon’s Numenor?

Population growth

Maximum theoretical population

This is the maximum population that island of Numenor could support with its resources. Land area of Numenor is some 167 961 square miles, or 435 017 square kilometers. France in 1345 – the medieval height of its population – had 20 million people, with area of maybe 550 000 square kilometers, for 36,36 people per square kilometer. Belgion managed more – with 1,5 million people and 30 689 km2 in modern-day borders, its population density was 48,9 people per square kilometer.

Numenor would be near if not beyond the top end of that range, as it is explicitly a country blessed by God. As such, I will assume maximum carrying population density of round 50 per square kilometer, for a total maximum of 21 750 850 people. Using France for estimate may be more likely however, as some areas of Numenor were indeed nearly uninhabitable; this would reduce the estimate to 15 817 000 people.

Historical population

I will be using this as basis. Tribe of Beor entered Beleriand with 2 000 adult men in 4th century of First Age. To this may be added some 2 000 women. Question is how many children. In 9th century France, average was 5,75 children per family, as many would have died – 30% mortality rate meant that effective average was 4 children per family. Assuming that 1 500 each of men and women are adults and remaining 500 elderly, 3 000 adults would have had 8 625 children. As such, tribe of Beor would have numbered 11 625 on their entry to Beleriand. Marachians entered in three hosts, each as large as Beorians, giving them 34 875 men. Halethians would have been somewhat more numerous than Beorians, or around 12 000; but as significant number were soon killed, this goes down to 9 000. Overall, number of Edain will have been 55 400.

Until Dagor Bragollach there were 150 years and 6 generations. Contact with Elves has dramatically increased lifespan and living quality, and thus likely reduced child mortality. Using this calculator, I will assume average lifespan of 80 years (increased from 70 to 90 during stay in Beleriand), and 4,5 children per family due to reduction in infant mortality, giving 2,57% yearly growth rate. However, constant warfare also meant constant losses. Thirty Years War killed 5 million men, or 1,5 million per year in Europe – with population of 78 million in 1600, mortality was thus around 2% per year. This would reduce yearly growth rate to some 0,57%, and final population would be 116 200 by the time of Dagor Bragollach.

Dagor Bragollach, Battle of Unnumbered Tears and later War of the Wraith will have devastated Edain numbers. Again based on Thirty Years War, 20% of population of Germany died in war, and in some areas as many as 50%. But this was just war, not occupation; population of Egypt was between 12 and 14 million when Arab conquerors entered the country in cca 650, but by 1800 there were fewer than 4 million inhabitants – negative growth rate of 0,1%. Thus a century between Nirnaer Arnodeidath and War of the Wrath will have seen population drop by 10% in Dagor Bragollach, 10 – 20% in Unnumbered Tears, and reduced by negative natural growth during a century between Unnumbered Tears and War of Wrath. War of Wrath itself may have led to some 50% losses due to widespread devastation. Thus, key points would be 116 200 in Dagor Bragollach, 105 000 after it, rise to 108 000 by the Nirnaen Arnodeidath, drop to 98 000 in that battle, and reduced to 86 000 by War of the Wrath. Total number of survivors of the last war may have been as few as 43 000.

Over first 50 years, all of the survivors will have arrived to Numenor. This means that starting population may have increased to 49 000 by the time everyone was safely on the island. Population in Numenor itself grew only slowly, as Numenoreans had few children as a consequence of both their high culture and long life. They did not grow more slowly than other men, but had thrice the lifespan of them, indicating perhaps 75 years between generations. In 3300 years this would have given 44 generations, which checks out as kings – which lived 400 years (5x normal) as opposed to 3x normal (225 – 240 years) of normal Numenoreans – had 25 generations.

In years 600 – 800, Numenor was still relatively sparsely populated. By 1200 first colonies started being established, although probably not due to population pressure. Around 1700 Numenor was already a major military and economic power, and likely increasingly crowded, and by 2100 mass colonization begins in earnest. By 3300s, Numenor was seriously overcrowded despite extensive network of colonies.

Assuming population of 20 000 000 by 2100., starting population of 49 000 would have meant total fertility rate of 2,52. With more likely population of 15 800 000, fertility rate drops to 2,497. This fertility rate means that, by 3000., population may have increased to up to 220 million, including colonies, absent any restraints. Not all people could have been transported to Middle-Earth, however, and lack of land on Numenor will have limited growth. Going from this, I will estimate migration level at 1 000 per year. This would mean 1 200 000 transported to Middle-Earth by 3300., which would result in 8,3 million people in colonies by the time Numenor sinks. As such, total population of Numenor and colonies will have been 24 100 000 in total in year 3300.. Of colonists, maybe 25% or 2 million will have been Faithful in north-western Middle Earth, possibly as few as 1 million; there will have been no Faithful left in Numenor itself.

Assuming growth rate similar to Roman Empire – 0,1% – fertility rate will have been 2,16, and Numenor will have achieved 1,24 million population by the time of its destruction. Unlike above numbers, however, this directly contradicts history, as it would not have resulted in population pressure which was indeed major factor in events of later history of Numenor.

Above numbers do not include conquered peoples, however. By using 8,3 million Numenoreans in colonies, total area of conquest may be estimated. Gondor and Arnor had a Numenorean core centered around Anduin and Fornost, respectively, with rest of population made up by indigenous peoples. Areas of Arnor and Gondor were estimated by Karen Fonstad at 248 540 square miles / 643 716 square kilometers for Arnor, and 716 425 square miles / 1 855 532 square kilometers for Gondor. This will have been inhabited by 1 – 2 million Faithful, for population density of 0,4 – 0,8 per square kilometer. With 8,3 million colonists, total area of colonies will have been 10 375 000 – 20 750 000 square kilometers.

Question still remains of how many indigenous peoples were present in the colonies. Caesar’s Gaul may have had population between 10 and 20 million people, but it may have been as low as 4 million. In fact, number between 4 and 10 million is most likely. With area of 494 000 square kilometers, this would give population density of 8 – 20 people per square kilometer. Even lower density is ten times the number of Numenoreans, which would correspond to Roman Republic (1 million in Rome, 6 – 14 million in Italy). These densities would give indigenous populace of 5 150 000 for Arnor, 14 844 000 for Gondor, and between 83 million and 166 million total indigenous population in the colonies. With Numenor itself, total population of the Empire would have been 107 to 190 million.


Standing Army

Numenor is clearly Roman Empire expy above. Numenorean core of the empire will have numbered cca 22 000 000 population, not counting the Faithful. Roman Empire of Hadrian had population of around 60 million people. Army was 155 000 in legions and 218 000 in auxillia, as well as 40 000 – 50 000 navy. This would give 0,7% as proportion of populace in the military; with similar proportion, Numenor itself may have had armed forces of 154 000 men, or as little as 57 000. Numbers of auxillia are harder to estimate. Assuming that Numenorean army had a similar proportion of auxilliaries to primary army as Roman Empire did, number of auxillia will have been between 100 000 and 215 000 men. If number of auxillia was similar in percentage in relation to total population of the empire, then number of auxillia will have been 300 000 to 600 000.

Total ground troops:

  • Numenorean army: 57 000 – 154 000
  • Indigenous auxillia: 100 000 – 215 000 or 300 000 – 600 000
  • Navy: 24 000 – 50 000

If population of Numenor is counted into auxillia numbers, then auxillia may be as strong as 690 000. It should be noted that number for the navy may or may not be underestimate: while Numenor itself was an island, and thus depended on naval communication with its colonies, warfare in Middle Earth was entirely land-bound. Unlike the Third Age, Sauron had neither the ability nor the will to contest the Numenorean rule over the ocean; as such, navy will have been sized primarily for securing communications lines with Middle-Earth. At most, it may have had 62 000 – 126 000 men (going by Byzantine navy of Middle Byzantine period).

  • Military (minimum)
    • 57 000 native army
    • 100 000 indigenous auxillia
    • 24 000 navy
    • TOTAL: 181 000
  • Military (middle)
    • 100 000 native army
    • 300 000 indigenous auxillia
    • 50 000 navy
    • TOTAL: 450 000
  • Military (maximum)
    • 154 000 native army
    • 600 000 indigenous auxillia
    • 126 000 navy
    • TOTAL: 880 000

Great Armada

Ar-Pharazon may have had a thousand ships in his Great Armament, and possibly even more (“archipelago of a thousand islands). Oceanic galleasses of Naples, which accompanied the Spanish Armada, had 300 soldiers and 300 rowers each. Numenoreans used slaves to man the oars; as such, 1 000 ships would have meant 300 000 soldiers onboard.

Lost Road Numenor

Lost Road is (non-canon) thought exercise made by Tolkien, which pushes Numenor up to 11. While it does not change anything about matters discussed above, it gives Numenor significant technological upgrade. Numenor receives “darts which fly over leagues unerring”, which indicates early form of rocket artillery, as well as airships and steam-powered ironclads.

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