Thursday, February 05, 2015

Word of the Day --Mithril

Mithril is a metal found in Middle-earth as described in the fantasy writings of J.R.R. Tolkien. It resembles silver but is stronger than steel, and much lighter in weight than either. The author first wrote of it in The Lord of the Rings, and it is retrospectively mentioned in the third, revised edition of The Hobbit in 1966. In the first 1937 edition, the mail shirt given to Bilbo is described as being made of "silvered steel".

In The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien wrote that mithril is found only in the mountains of Moria, where it was mined by the Dwarves. Unfinished Tales alleges that it is also found in NĂºmenor.

The name mithril comes from two words in Sindarin—mith, meaning "grey" or "mist", and ril meaning "glitter"."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Tolkien was writing about a real world metal by the way. This metal had all the same characteristics of Mithril. Very light, very strong, silver in color and very, very, rare. Raw nuggets of this metal adorned the crowns of kings, and still do. One of the most expensive crowns of it's time, was made from this metal.

The Metal is called aluminum.
Before the 1800's aluminum was rarer then gold and platinum. That's because aluminum is so reactive it bounds really easily with other elements and is almost never found in it's raw form. In the early 1800's a process was worked out to extract aluminum from Bauxite, and toward the end of the 1800's a very cheap method of extraction was developed. And so, the most rare, and sought after metal, became one of the most plentiful.

Tolkien certainly new this and modeled Mithril around the metal aluminum. He just gave it a new name, and made it a bit more plentiful then in the real world. There certainly was never enough raw aluminum historically to create armor out of it.