House of Haleth - Tools and Props

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
We are picturing the House of Haleth as a pre-Bronze Age civilization when they arrive in Beleriand, with the caveat that they can obtain metal items through trade. At the time of the Stockade battle, most families have one metal tool/weapon in their possession.

Of the three Houses of Men, the House of Haleth will have the oldest style of tools. So, what types of things might be found in their households?

Here is a wooden bowl made from silver birch. If the Forest of Brethil is a birchwood, the Haladin will no doubt use that wood to make many of their items. (Alternatively, it could be a beech forest, like Neldoreth).

1623741876308.png

Granted, this particular bowl was made using more modern woodturning techniques that are not available to the Haladin. So, their wooden objects will look different.

Another important question is how they will grind their grain. Certainly, all the cultures we are depicting know how to grind grain into flour. But they may use different methods, and it would be important not to give the Haladin a more advanced technology than their neighbors in this regard. So no windmills or waterwheels for them!

According to this video from Ireland, a simple back-and-forth motion of a handstone rubbing against a quern stone was a bronze age standard, and a hand-turned rotary milling stone is an iron age invention.
In the Episode 8 script, it is implied that the Haladin use the back-and-forth motion while kneeling to grind their grain, while the people of Nargothrond have learned to use rotary mills while living with the Noldor.

Here's an Egyptian statue, showing the work required to grind grain in this way.

(This particular statue is from c. 2500 BC)
Other examples of artwork from the ancient Near East confirm that grain grinding was a communal activity, likely accompanied by singing.

There is, however, an intriguing in-between option for quern stones. There were hand stones that were used in a circular motion on the quern, prior to millstones. This option can be seen in these saddle querns from northern Africa:

If we wanted to give the Haladin querns of this style, that would be another option.
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
I've read that bronze age was a very aristocratic Age... maybe more copper-stone-Age instead?




These are illustratiins for ukrainian neolithic-early bronze age which i relly like.
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
Hmm... looks almost too nice for Haladin... i never quite thought of them as the embroiding, ornamental, decorative type.
 

Halstein

Active Member
Were not the Beaker people more apropiate for this far West? Or, if we are going East, how about Indus Valley then?
Maybe, but I don't think we should just copy specific cultures, or this group=this real world culture. Using real cultures as a starting-point, may making good props easier.
 

Halstein

Active Member
Hmm... looks almost too nice for Haladin... i never quite thought of them as the embroiding, ornamental, decorative type.
We don't necessarily use the same decoration, but maybe coopery (? things made by coopers), are better. The items made by different cultures are usually influenced by available resources. As an example, a people living in Nan-Tathren would most likely use a lot of basketry.
 

Odola

Active Member
Maybe, but I don't think we should just copy specific cultures, or this group=this real world culture. Using real cultures as a starting-point, may making good props easier.
Still, how far are they post-hunter-gatherer? Do they have live stock? Can they grow crops or do they live from the forests? Do they farm or hunt more? Do they live in Neolitic long houses or the later British Isles' round houses? Elves do not seem to have cows, goats or sheep, nor milk, only horses. If humans have live stock, they have to have brought it with them (as actually has happened, Europe's cattle and sheep are genetically from Anatolia, and not from local wild forms).
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
Correct, the goal here is to establish their situation - available tools and resources and likely level of technology - and then make choices for material culture that fit those circumstances. So rather than draw from a single real world culture with one-to-one correspondence, we would like to build a unique culture 'from scratch'. With the understanding that we don't *actually* have to dress a set, so working out every single detail is not necessary.

So far, what we have depicted for the Haladin are forest homesteads. There's a lot of hunter-gatherer culture involved, but they do have livestock (sheep/goats), and they do have bread (so cultivated grain).

While the Haladin themselves have not yet reached the Bronze Age, they have had contact with cultures that have bronze and steel, and are able to obtain these items from their neighbors (Men/Dwarves/Elves). Haleth, for instance, has a signature weapon that is a spear, and we are depicting the spearhead as metal, not stone.

Saddle querns are used across a wide variety of cultures. Their use continues well past the neolithic age for places where corn is the staple grain, but in places that predominantly have wheat, shifts were made to other more efficient methods of milling.

But a rotary quern (such as this one from Thrislington) is an iron age tool, because you need to shape the stones with metal chisels. 1623862675832.png

So, we wouldn't show the Haladin with those rotary-style millstones, but would limit them to some variation of a saddle quern. Such as this example from Ireland c. 3800 BC:


For pottery - yes, they would definitely have the capability to make pottery. Pottery pre-dates Neolithic cultures and is useful for a wide variety of purposes. As long as they have clay, they have pottery. There are technological considerations, though - firing pottery requires a very hot furnace, so there would likely be one potter for a whole community (not something everyone would make for themselves), or at the very least, one communal kiln. And a pottery wheel is often considered an iron age development, so the Cucuteni–Trypillia examples above are the right technology level - pre-potters-wheel, made by coiling and then smoothing the clay. For designs, we would have to consider what sort of pigments might be available to the Haladin, but because they have many different cultures around them and have travelled extensively, they are not completely limited here.

The Haladin are a practical people who live a harsh existence - they are portrayed as isolated within a dangerous environment, fighting for survival. But I do not think this means that they must divest themselves of all ornamentation. Yes, you make pottery because it is practical, and you need to carry water and cook. But if you are going to take all the time and effort to make each individual piece...why wouldn't you put some decorative touches on it?

We are portraying the Haladin as illiterate (at least in Season 5), so their culture is strictly oral tradition and art - no written language. Decorations can therefore serve as signatures, or as 'this piece belongs to this person', as ways of setting apart pieces and making them unique.

As another example of 'what would their things look like?' consider a simple leather folding tripod stool:
1623865939394.png

Three legs, fit into leather pockets in the corners. A nice basic design. However...in this example, that is a metal screw holding the three legs together. And what tools would have been used to tool the leather for this design? So, if the Haladin have a stool like this, it would perhaps have a wooden peg holding the legs in place, and might not be as easily collapsible as this example. And while they certainly have leather, they might have something simpler, with designs woven in using different colored cording on the edges, rather than by tooling an image in the center. Also, while this particular example uses bamboo for the supports, they may be using a wooden leg carved from whatever trees are in their area. So, they could have an item rather like this one, but it would not be identical, because that would not match their material culture.
 
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Odola

Active Member
Correct, the goal here is to establish their situation - available tools and resources and likely level of technology - and then make choices for material culture that fit those circumstances. So rather than draw from a single real world culture with one-to-one correspondence, we would like to build a unique culture 'from scratch'. With the understanding that we don't *actually* have to dress a set, so working out every single detail is not necessary.

So far, what we have depicted for the Haladin are forest homesteads. There's a lot of hunter-gatherer culture involved, but they do have livestock (sheep/goats), and they do have bread (so cultivated grain).

While the Haladin themselves have not yet reached the Bronze Age, they have had contact with cultures that have bronze and steel, and are able to obtain these items from their neighbors (Men/Dwarves/Elves). Haleth, for instance, has a signature weapon that is a spear, and we are depicting the spearhead as metal, not stone.

Saddle querns are used across a wide variety of cultures. Their use continues well past the neolithic age for places where corn is the staple grain, but in places that predominantly have wheat, shifts were made to other more efficient methods of milling.

But a rotary quern (such as this one from Thrislington) is an iron age tool, because you need to shape the stones with metal chisels. View attachment 3689

So, we wouldn't show the Haladin with those rotary-style millstones, but would limit them to some variation of a saddle quern. Such as this example from Ireland c. 3800 BC:


For pottery - yes, they would definitely have the capability to make pottery. Pottery pre-dates Neolithic cultures and is useful for a wide variety of purposes. As long as they have clay, they have pottery. There are technological considerations, though - firing pottery requires a very hot furnace, so there would likely be one potter for a whole community (not something everyone would make for themselves), or at the very least, one communal kiln. And a pottery wheel is often considered an iron age development, so the Cucuteni–Trypillia examples above are the right technology level - pre-potters-wheel, made by coiling and then smoothing the clay. For designs, we would have to consider what sort of pigments might be available to the Haladin, but because they have many different cultures around them and have travelled extensively, they are not completely limited here.

The Haladin are a practical people who live a harsh existence - they are portrayed as isolated within a dangerous environment, fighting for survival. But I do not think this means that they must divest themselves of all ornamentation. Yes, you make pottery because it is practical, and you need to carry water and cook. But if you are going to take all the time and effort to make each individual piece...why wouldn't you put some decorative touches on it?

We are portraying the Haladin as illiterate (at least in Season 5), so their culture is strictly oral tradition and art - no written language. Decorations can therefore serve as signatures, or as 'this piece belongs to this person', as ways of setting apart pieces and making them unique.

As another example of 'what would their things look like?' consider a simple leather folding tripod stool:
View attachment 3690

Three legs, fit into leather pockets in the corners. A nice basic design. However...in this example, that is a metal screw holding the three legs together. And what tools would have been used to tool the leather for this design? So, if the Haladin have a stool like this, it would perhaps have a wooden peg holding the legs in place, and might not be as easily collapsible as this example. And while they certainly have leather, they might have something simpler, with designs woven in using different colored cording on the edges, rather than by tooling an image in the center. Also, while this particular example uses bamboo for the supports, they may be using a wooden leg carved from whatever trees are in their area. So, they could have an item rather like this one, but it would not be identical, because that would not match their material culture.
The best match I could find quicly was https://www.thoughtco.com/funnel-beaker-culture-170938 It seems a midway culture between hunter-gatherer and full blown farmer - goat, sheep but pre-cattle.

Edit: https://www.dfb-keramiek.nl/2020/09/funnel-beaker-ceramics-pottery-of-giants/?lang=en

We would be the "plastic bottle culture" according to that nomenclature ;-) .
 
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Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
So what end point do we want the House of Haleth to be at circa the Dagor Bragollach? Dark Ages Europe (up to 10th century)? Celts?
 
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Odola

Active Member
@MithLuin The issue with the quern is that to know what kind they would use we would need to know the kinds and amounts of crop processed, the general house size, and how sedentary/migratory they were. First things first. ;-)
 

Odola

Active Member
So what end point do we want the House of Haleth to be at circa the Dagor Bragollach? Dark Ages Europe (up to 10th century)? Celts?
Plenty of material cultures in between. La Tene, Halstatt etc. etc. Material cultures and "the culture of shared ideas" are not the same. Materially Tolkien belonged to the "glass bottle culture" while we belong to its successor. But still we would consider ouerselves to be part of his culture ideologically.
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
Still, how far are they post-hunter-gatherer? Do they have live stock? Can they grow crops or do they live from the forests? Do they farm or hunt more? Do they live in Neolitic long houses or the later British Isles' round houses? Elves do not seem to have cows, goats or sheep, nor milk, only horses. If humans have live stock, they have to have brought it with them (as actually has happened, Europe's cattle and sheep are genetically from Anatolia, and not from local wild forms).
I believe they are a people just in transition, from nomadic hunter-herders to settled herder-smalltime farmers. So they are, in my definition not a copper/Bronze age culture yet.They DO know the basics of the technique, they DO have some copper or bronze stuff... but they are not REALLY a developed smithculture yet.They might have done and still do some primitive smithing for daily use but they soon will become virtually dependent of Elven smiths, whichnthey probably dislike and so scarcely have any really better weapons and tools.

I believe it will be their successor culture, the "men-of-Balar" and the "mouths-of-sirion culture" who will become real smiths and, shipwrights and mariners who really obtain and practice the elven crafts.
 
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Odola

Active Member
I believe they are a people just in transition, from nomadic hunter-herders to settled herder-smalltime farmers. So they are, in my definition not a copper/Bronze age culture yet.They DO know the basics of the technique, they DO have some copper or bronze stuff... but they are not REALLY a developed smithculture yet.They might have done and still do some primitive smithing for daily use but they soon will become virtually dependent of Elven smiths, whichnthey probably dislike and so scarcely have any really better weapons and tools.

I believe it will be their successor culture, the "men-of-Balar" and the "mouths-of-sirion culture" who will become real smiths and, shipwrights and mariners who really obtain and practice the elven crafts.
Then Funnel Beaker would fit well. They are a mixed culture of Early European Farmers from Anatolia and the orginal European Hunter Gatherers - almost 50%/50%, do have some first experiences in cooper smithing, are involved in long distance traiding, seem to be patrilinear and accepting women from all surroundong cultures, have small temporary fields in the woods, nuclear family house sizes (but some longhouse still can be found among them), small settlements with few houses, do often burry their deads in barrows, are a little backward compared to the main cultures in the South, seems to be quite effective warriors, and later colonise some arreas in the south from them, even if they are later replaced themselves. And here their grinding stones https://bau.nu/____impro/1/onewebmedia/Grutning,bondesten.lille72.jpg?etag="1f552-56546521"&sourceContentType=image/jpeg&quality=85
Here some pictures of that time from where I fot the illustration above: https://bau.nu/Historisk illustration Historische Illustration History illustration/bondestenalder (neolitikum) neolithikum neolithic-period.html
 
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MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
@MithLuin The issue with the quern is that to know what kind they would use we would need to know the kinds and amounts of crop processed, the general house size, and how sedentary/migratory they were. First things first. ;-)
The People of Haleth undertake a migration from Thargelion to the Forest of Brethil in Season 5 (Episodes 5-6). When we see them in Episodes 4 and 8, however, they are a settled people. The quern appears in Episode 8, when they have transitioned to a more communal life at Amon Obel, as opposed to the isolated homestead life they had in Thargelion. So the answer to those questions depends very much on the moment in time we are seeing them. We are unlikely to show them pausing to grind grain while traversing Nan Dungortheb; we will show the process after they are settled in the Forest of Brethil.

As for kinds of crops, I am imagining wheat and barley. Not corn or rice. Other crops are possible, though.

I am fairly confident assigning them saddle querns rather than rotary querns, though, based on their level of technology. The only real question is the design of the saddle quern, and whether or not they use a large stone (two-handed) to grind the grain, or a smaller one-handed stone for rubbing.
 

Odola

Active Member
The People of Haleth undertake a migration from Thargelion to the Forest of Brethil in Season 5 (Episodes 5-6). When we see them in Episodes 4 and 8, however, they are a settled people. The quern appears in Episode 8, when they have transitioned to a more communal life at Amon Obel, as opposed to the isolated homestead life they had in Thargelion. So the answer to those questions depends very much on the moment in time we are seeing them. We are unlikely to show them pausing to grind grain while traversing Nan Dungortheb; we will show the process after they are settled in the Forest of Brethil.

As for kinds of crops, I am imagining wheat and barley. Not corn or rice. Other crops are possible, though.

I am fairly confident assigning them saddle querns rather than rotary querns, though, based on their level of technology. The only real question is the design of the saddle quern, and whether or not they use a large stone (two-handed) to grind the grain, or a smaller one-handed stone for rubbing.
As far I have seen the grinding stones are ca 5 cm diameter. If the fields in the woods are small and temporary, and the houses one nuclear family houses, then smaller ones make sense. They would grind immidiately before cooking/banking just the amount they need, and carry only the grinding stones with them, while searching for a news big stone base to grind on.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
Yes, I agree that they will not be taking the querns with them while travelling. They'll take the grinding stone and make do. By the time they are settled in Amon Obel, they will have permanent saddle querns for the the community - which is when we will be showing the querns (not during the journey). Grinding stones can be larger than 5 cm, though.

Also, there are elvish words for sheep, goat, cattle, and herds of these animals in the early wordlists, so I am not certain that Elves did not keep livestock other than horses.
 
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Odola

Active Member
Also, there are elvish words for sheep, goat, cattle, and herds of these animals in the early wordlists, so I am not certain that Elves did not keep livestock other than horses.
That is actually what I do wonder about. We know that elves hunt. We know they have fields in Gondolin (are specific crops mentioned? Cannot remember.) but do they have pastures and herds there? Is milk or cheese or wool ever mentioned in elvish context? Wood elves seem to be pure hunter-gatherers and to trade with humans for their produce.
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
So, I figured I would jump in here with some clarifications about the story. After all - as has been stated above, first things first.

The Haladin first appear in our story in S05E03, before the birth of Haleth. By this point, they have already established their own family homesteads in Thargelion. They are settled and nonmigratory. They have small farms, each supporting an individual household.

Over the course of S05E04 their social structure becomes more cohesive when they build a hall and stockade for protection. When an Orc attack kills much of the male population, they pack up and head for a new home. This is a short-term migration that takes only a year or two. They do not become a nomadic culture during this time, as this is a temporary state for them.

By the end of S05E06, they have found a new home in Brethil, but they do not return to the nuclear homesteads of the previous generations. Some might, of course, but most of them adopt a more communal lifestyle, not unlike the Aztec calpulli. They hunt together, grind grain together, and feast together. They still work no metal of their own, and remain illiterate.

So, what does this mean for this discussion so far?

At no point in our story are the Haladin culturally nomadic or a hunter-gatherer society. They might carry their grindstones with them on the journey to Brethil, but that seems unnecessary weight for the easier part of a quern to source on the other end of their journey. It's the quern stone itself that is a tough find.

It's important to remember that we should not be able to recognize a particular real-world culture as the basis for one of those in our show. There are historical (and even modern) cultures that have elements we could and should use.
 
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