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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
The Dwarves' Age in Human Years


Jan 18 2013, 10:08am

Post #1 of 11 (15262 views)
The Dwarves' Age in Human Years Can't Post

I tried searching for a thread like this but didn't find one (probably due to my lack of forum-searching skills), so apologies if this has already been discussed.

From "Durin's Folk" from the Appendices of ROTK, we get the Longbeards' family tree which gives the birth/death years of dwarves.

So I thought it would be interesting to see how old the dwarves were when the Hobbit-related major events occurred (in human years). For age conversion I used this formula:

Thanks to the author of the page!

Here goes:
Sack of Erebor
Thorin 24 (= 12 in human years)
Balin 7 (=3.5)
Dain 3 (=1.5)
The rest are not yet born at this point.

End of the War of of the Dwarves and Orcs
*Azog slain by Dain
Thorin 53 (=23)
Balin 36 (=18)
Dain 32 (=16)
Dwalin 27 (=13.5)
Oin 25 (=12.5)
Gloin 16 (=8)

Quest for Erebor
Thorin 195 (=57)
Balin 178 (=53)
Dain 174 (=52)
Dwalin 169 (=51)
Oin 167 (=50)
Gloin 158 (=48)
The others -- around 130 (=41)
Fili 82 (=30)
Kili 77 (=29)
[Gimli 62 (=25)]

So what this means:
- Thorin might be the only one who actually remembers the sack of Erebor.
- The 'older generation' of the dwarves were still quite young-ish during the War of the Dwarves and Orcs
- In the movie version, Thorin's age has been greatly reduced and it is apparent he is much younger than Balin and the rest of the dwarves from that generation
- Technically, Gimli isn't 'too young' to join the quest, but maybe Gloin just wants to keep his son safe (?)
- Fili's and Kili's looks in the movies seem right for their age

Of course, these observations can be way off, as we have no idea of knowing how exactly dwarves 'come of age' or what is considered 'mature' in their culture. After all, Hobbits come of age at 33, and only live to be about 100 years, so in a way we can say that they have a prolonged childhood (hence their jolly nature?). I think I read somewhere that Elves have a relatively brief childhood before they are considered adults. So maybe it is different for the dwarves. Maybe they reach physical maturity (and can join battles) at the same age as humans, but are less emotionally developed? Or maybe they need to become what is equivalent to a middle-aged human before they are considered 'mature'?

Thoughts and speculations will be greatly appreciated!

(And do let me know if my numbers are wrong!)


Jan 18 2013, 10:27am

Post #2 of 11 (10112 views)
Dwarves age and human age [In reply to] Can't Post

Yeah that's a good link, thanks for that.

I think it more accurately shows their ages rather than a simply 250 to 70 conversion would do, otherwise Thorin at 24 would be only 6.7 years old in human years - just seems a little off.

As for elves i think Tolkien considered both a long childhood and a short one, depends where you look (short for them).


Jan 18 2013, 10:59am

Post #3 of 11 (9700 views)
Really nice summary [In reply to] Can't Post

Dwarves and human are not of the same race so this does not really give a truthful view on their prowess. You cannot compare elves and human either.

For example
Human peak physically between 25-35 in most cases it goes down from there on.

Dwarves on the other hand just get's tougher as they age. And they have to be really old before they wither and die. On the battlefield the oldest are ofthen the best warriors aswell.

I understand why these lists are made, but they don't really give a truthful view on theire abilities.

*Baruk khazd! Khazd ai-mnu!*


Jan 18 2013, 11:15am

Post #4 of 11 (9701 views)
Yeah [In reply to] Can't Post

In Reply To
As for elves i think Tolkien considered both a long childhood and a short one, depends where you look (short for them).

I agree. Even if they have a 300-year childhood it will still be gone in a blink for them Laugh


Jan 18 2013, 12:11pm

Post #5 of 11 (9633 views)
Good point! [In reply to] Can't Post

I didn't even think of battle prowess when I made the list, but more about emotional maturity.


Jan 18 2013, 12:39pm

Post #6 of 11 (9668 views)
Do dwarves get tougher as they age [In reply to] Can't Post

Or is it just they stay the same physically until around 240 years old so someone who is 220 will physically be in the same shape as someone who has just reached full maturity but also have the benefit of over a hundred years experience - potentially many battles - i.e. better, more skilled warrior?

I dont know myself.


Jan 18 2013, 5:45pm

Post #7 of 11 (9594 views)
From HoMe XII: The Peoples of Middle-earth [In reply to] Can't Post



Dwarves of different 'breeds' vary in their longevity. Durin's race were originally long-lived (especially those named Durin), but like most other peoples they had become less so during the Third Age. Their average age (unless they met a violent death) was about 250 years, which they seldom fell far short of, but could occasionally far exceed (up to 300). A Dwarf of 300 was about as rare and aged as a Man of 100.
Dwarves remained young - e.g. regarded as too tender for really hard work or for fighting - until they were 30 or nearly that (Din II was very young in 2799 (32) and his slaying of Azog was a great feat). After that they hardened and took on the appearance of age (by human standards) very quickly. By forty all Dwarves looked much alike in age, until they reached what they regarded as old age, about 240. They then began to age and wrinkle and go white quickly (baldness being unknown among them), unless they were going to be long-lived, in which case the process was delayed. Almost the only physical disorder they suffered from (they were singularly immune from diseases such as affected Men, and Halflings) was corpulence. If in prosperous circumstances, many grew very fat at or before 200, and could not do much (save eat) afterwards. Otherwise 'old age' lasted not much more than ten years, and from say 40 or a little before to near 240 (two hundred years) the capacity for toil (and for fighting) of most Dwarves was equally great.


Scourge of the Stoors

Jan 18 2013, 5:52pm

Post #8 of 11 (9756 views)
Film age vs book age [In reply to] Can't Post

I recall an issue of Rolling Stone quoting Jackson saying something along the lines of this: we made Thorin a lot younger than he was in the book, because it makes his quest more important to audiences if he isn't near the end of his life anyway. So instead of being about 86, we made him around 45 or 50.

Also, just some inferencing on my part, but Balin is clearly much older than Thorin in the New Line canon. Even during the prologue and flashback sequences, his face is weathered and his beard is gray. Dwalin even points out that Balin has shrunken in his age.


Jan 19 2013, 2:54am

Post #9 of 11 (9518 views)
I think it makes sense [In reply to] Can't Post

I like the change, actually. In the book, there is no real reason for Thorin being the oldest (not really relevant to the plot), so I think making him younger is a good decision. I also love that Balin is the 'old and wise' dwarf and his character really brings warmth to the screen -- it allows for more dynamics between the dwarves as well Smile


Jan 19 2013, 5:02pm

Post #10 of 11 (9471 views)
Re [In reply to] Can't Post

I've been really into the Longbeard timeline as well. Thorin describes himself during the Sack of Erebor as having been a boy, and if you compare Dwarf lives with Hobbit lives - where the Hobbit version if 18 is 33 years old, and the fact Dwarves have longer lifespans than Hobbits, 24 is not so old after all and he really would have been a lad.

And if Hobbit adulthood is 33, perhaps Dwarf adulthood is at least "barely more" than Gimli's young age of 62 - the mere 15 years younger than Kili.

Also, though not all the Dwarves in the novel get a fare amount of description, if Thorin and Balin are typically described as old - pushing 200, and they get described as having the gray hair, and dwarves only become adults at 60-something, it stands to reason that a Dwarf doesn't start going gray in the hair, typically until around the 150s (middle 100s). Obviously like with Humans, that would have a tendency to vary greatly from person to person.

Registered User

Jan 28 2013, 7:46pm

Post #11 of 11 (9584 views)
Age of Balin v Thorin [In reply to] Can't Post

Although Thorin is the oldest of the dwarves, in The Hobbit, Balin is explicitly described as being very old looking, but Thorin is not, which always suggested to me that he was longer lived, in the same way that Aragorn was longer lived and younger looking than other Men. I never pictured Thorin as an elderly Father Christmassy type, always as someone in late middle age, regardless of his chronological age. Admittedly I was 9 or 10 at the first reading, so would probably have seen 40 and 90 as pretty much equally ancient! Wink


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