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Old 04-17-2018, 06:51 AM   #3
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
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If Arda is Earth, then we know who settled the Americas, and more importantly, who Tolkien would have thought of as doing so. The 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica's article on America says this:

Whether with Payne it is assumed that in some remote time a speechless anthropoid passed over a land bridge, now the Bering Sea, which then sank behind him; or with W. Boyd Dawkins and Brinton, that the French cave man came hither by way of Iceland; or with Keane, that two subvarieties, the long-headed Eskimo-Botocudo type and the Mexican roundheaded type, prior to all cultural developments, reached the New World, one by Iceland, the other by Bering Sea; or that Malayoid Wanderers were stranded on the coast of South America; or that no breach of continuity has occurred since first the march of tribes began this way-—ethnologists agree that the aborigines of the western came from the eastern hemisphere,and there is lacking any biological evidence of Caucasoid or Negroid blood flowing in the veins of Americans before the invasions of historic times.
According to this source that was current when Tolkien was learning history and geography, it wasn't clear which way the American settlers came over the ice, but it was pretty clear they came over the ice. They were also definitely not 'Caucasoid' - which under most interpretations of Middle-earth would include the Numenoreans - or 'Negroid' - which, again, would be the Haradrim.

The choice then becomes whether the Easterlings - perhaps some group fleeing Sauron, further into the east - crossed an ice bridge in the north-east, or whether the Northmen of Middle-earth struck out west, passing over the ruins of Beleriand to reach new lands. The former seems more likely - the suspects for the latter would have to be the Forodwaith, who don't come across as probable explorers. But you never know.

Memory says that Tolkien placed the end of the Third Age around 6000 years ago, which would make the appearance of the New World about 9000 years ago. That's slightly too recent for the Clovis Culture, until recently the dominant theory on the first American settlers; but it's within margin of error for what people may have thought a hundred years ago.

Of course, the huge problem with merging Middle-earth with prehistory is that the Clovis Culture was a stone-age society lacking any of the kinds of technology that, eg, Sauron would've given to his armies during his great war with the survivors of Numenor... maybe they shot all their swords into the sun?

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