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Downfall of Númenor

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This article is about the event. For the chapter of The Silmarillion, see "Akallabêth".
John Howe - The Drowning of Numenor.jpg
The Downfall of Númenor
Other namesThe Drowning of Númenor
LocationPrimarily Númenor, but affected the shores of Middle-earth
DateS.A. 3319
ResultDestruction of Númenor, exile of the Faithful
Part ofThe Changing of the World
ParticipantsNúmenóreans, Valar, Eru
DescriptionCatastrophe that caused Númenor to sink into the Sea
Main article: Changing of the World

The Downfall of Númenor was the utter destruction of the island of Númenor, a divine punishment for King Ar-Pharazôn's assault on the Undying Lands.



During the Second Age, Sauron, Morgoth's greatest servant, had grown mighty in Middle-earth. Defeating all resistance and ruling through terror, force, and persuasion, the peoples of Middle-earth looked to Númenor for aid. Heeding their desperate plight, the Númenorians dispatched an immense military force to Middle-earth, and after a period of heavy fighting, defeated Sauron's forces. Sauron hid within Mordor, where none dared to assail him, and re-built his forces. After once more reaching a height in his power, and with the armies of Númenor having left Middle-earth, Sauron was once more unopposed, and took on the titles Lord of the Earth and King of Men.

The Númenorians once more received word of his rise in power. Angered by Sauron's pride and wishing to avoid another difficult war, the Númenorians came once more to Middle-earth in immense military force to confront Sauron a final time. So mighty were they that Sauron's forces fled from them with barely a fight. Sauron, however, realizing he could not defeat the Númenorians militarily, allowed himself to be captured, and begged, falsely, for mercy. The Númenorians brought him back as a prisoner, though through Sauron's persuasion, he rose from prisoner to advisor to the King himself. Convincing many officials to worship Morgoth, they quickly became corrupted to his side, to the point where Sauron successfully convinced King Ar-Pharazôn to betray the Valar and besiege them.

Elendil, son of the leader of the Faithful during the reign of Ar-Pharazôn, his sons and his followers had foreseen the disaster that was to befall Númenor, and they had set sail in nine ships before the island fell. His father Amandil the Lord of Andúnië, imitating Eärendil, decided to go West to warn the Valar about the King's plans.

Flooding of Númenor

The Fall of Númenor by Darrell Sweet

Manwë, chief of the Valar, called upon Ilúvatar, who destroyed the Great Armament of Ar-Pharazôn that had landed on Aman by crushing it under stones; he also broke and changed the world, taking Aman and Tol Eressëa from the world forever, changing Arda's shape from flat to round so that no sailor would seek the True West again. Númenor was covered by great waves and sank into the abyss, killing its inhabitants.

New lands formed in the West, islands rose and hills were formed. However the coastline of Middle-earth was not much affected, other than Tolfalas was drowned a bit, and the lands around it formed the Ethir Anduin.


Just a few people, the Faithful, still uncorrupted by Sauron managed to escape the catastrophe; they fled Númenor by ship, carrying some gifts that the Dúnedain had received from the Valar and the Elves in times of peace. These were the Palantíri, the Ring of Barahir, the Sceptre of Annúminas, Narsil and a fruit of Nimloth the Fair stolen by Isildur. They were led by Elendil the Tall and his two sons, Isildur and Anárion.

They landed in Middle-earth and met the colonists who were in the settlements of those lands among the Middle Men; the followers of Elendil united them by establishing two kingdoms which came to be known as as the realms of Exile: Gondor in the south, and Arnor in the north. The culture of Númenor became the dominant culture of Middle-earth (thus, Westron, a descendant of the Adûnaic language of Númenor, became the Common Speech). The sadness and the shock from the loss of their island home always remained in the hearts of Kings of Númenórean descent.

They were dismayed to discover that Sauron, although greatly diminished and bereft of shape, had survived the Downfall and returned to Middle-earth with the One Ring to continue troubling its inhabitants.

Meanwhile some of the King's Men had established other realms in exile to the south; of these the Haven of Umbar was the chief and continued to reign the lands there. These were known as Black Númenóreans.


After its fall Númenor was called Akallabêth or Atalantë in Quenya, meaning "the Downfallen", Mar-nu-Falmar ("Land under the Waves").