There are people who love J.R.R. Tolkien’s books about Middle-earth, and there are fanatics who study their history, origins, and inspirations. Sometimes these people are also geography geeks and love studying maps of Tolkien’s imaginative universe. Then there’s Mohammad Reza Kamali, an Iranian Tolkien fan who spent years comparing Middle-earth to real maps of the real world. He noticed an uncanny similarity between Mordor and the Himalayan mountain range.
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Now, Tolkien himself said that the Shire was based on rural England, and that action of the story takes place in a part of Middle-earth that is “equivalent in latitude to the coastlands of Europe and the north shores of the Mediterranean.” Many fans took that simply as meaning Europe. But “equivalent in latitude” doesn’t mean Europe. Kamali was very familiar with Tolkien’s maps, and recognized their lines and shapes when he saw the real-world topography of Pakistan’s mountains. Furthermore, the Indus River shares many similarities to Anduin, the Great River of Middle-Earth, where the One Ring was lost. Read Kamali’s theories about Tolkien’s maps and the reasoning behind them at Big Think. -via Atlas Obscura
(Image credit: Ian Alexander)