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The Thain's Book
An encyclopedia of Middle-earth and Numenor

Khazad-dum / Moria

Important Dates
Names & Etymology
Moria by Alan Lee

Moria - Alan LeeKhazad-dum was the greatest of the Dwarf realms in Middle-earth. Its vast and beautiful halls lay under the Misty Mountains. From its mines came great riches and it was the only source of the precious metal called mithril. But a Balrog slept in the deeps beneath Khazad-dum, and when it awoke the Dwarves were driven from their home. The halls of Khazad-dum were taken over by Orcs and other evil creatures and it became known as Moria, the Black Chasm, and was a place of fear and dread.


Khazad-dum was located in the Misty Mountains under the three Mountains of Moria - Cloudyhead, the Redhorn, and the Silvertine. On the eastern side of Khazad-dum was the Dimrill Dale where the lake of Mirrormere lay. On the western side was the region known as Eregion, or Hollin. The halls of Khazad-dum stretched about 40 miles from east to west.

The eastern entrance to Khazad-dum was the Dimrill Gate or East-gate. The Great Gates were hung on towering doorposts. Inside were the earliest halls and passages made by the Dwarves, later known as Old Moria. The First Hall had high windows on the eastern side that let in light. A wide road led from the First Hall down a broad set of steps to the First Deep - the level just below the Dimrill Gate, at a distance of about a quarter mile.

At the foot of the stairs was a deep abyss spanned by the Bridge of Khazad-dum. The bridge was 50 feet long, and it was narrow with no railing. It had been built as a defense against any invader who might get past the Dimrill Gate and take the First Hall. On the other side of the abyss was the Second Hall, a vast chamber with a double row of pillars in the center. The pillars were tall and were carved like trees; at the top their branches supported the high ceiling.

Beyond the Second Hall, the underground city spread out in a vast and intricate network of passages, stairs, rooms, and halls. There were many streams and wells throughout the city. The Dwarves hung crystal lamps to illuminate their city, and many of the upper chambers had high windows in the mountainside. One such chamber was the Twenty-first Hall on the Seventh Level - a huge hall with doors on each side and towering stone pillars and polished black walls.

Down the corridor from the northern door of Hall 21, on the right-hand side, was the Chamber of Mazarbul, or the Chamber of Records. From the western door of Hall 21, a wide road led eastward and downward. The road grew narrower near the bottom and ended at an archway where it met two other corridors also coming from the east - one running straight and one coming up from the deeps. There was a guardroom at the juncture of the three corridors.

In the Third Deep of Khazad-dum were the upper armories. Far below were the treasuries of the Dwarves. In the mines of Khazad-dum were found gold, silver, iron, beryls, pearls, opals, and other precious metals and gems. The lodes of mithril were deep under the mountains, running north toward the roots of the Redhorn.

On the peak of the Silvertine - which the Dwarves called Zirak-zigil - stood Durin's Tower. The tower was carved out of the living rock of the mountain and stood upon a high eyrie. A spiral staircase of many thousand steps called the Endless Stair led to the tower from the foundations of the mountain.

At the western end of Khazad-dum, a flight of two hundred stairs led down to the West-gate, called the Hollin Gate. There hung the Doors of Durin, made by the Dwarf craftsman Narvi and engraved by the Elf craftsman Celebrimbor. On the doors were drawings and writings traced with ithildin, a silvery substance made from mithril. At the top was an inscription reading: "The Doors of Durin, Lord of Moria. Say 'Friend' and enter. I, Narvi, made them. Celebrimbor of Eregion drew these signs."

Beneath the inscription were seven stars over a crown and a hammer and anvil. Below these were drawn two trees representing Galathilion, the Tree of the High Elves. In the middle of the door was the Star of the House of Feanor. From inside, the doors could be opened outward with a push, but from the outside they could only be opened by speaking the password: mellon, or "friend."

Two great holly trees stood on either side of the Hollin Gate. Sirannon, the Gate-stream, flowed through the valley in front of the gate and over a waterfall called the Stair Falls. A road ran alongside the stream from the gate and down the cliff near the waterfall. There was also a flight of stairs beside the falls.


Khazad-dum was founded in ancient times by Durin, the eldest of the Seven Fathers of the Dwarves. After Durin awoke in Mount Gundabad, he came south to the Dimrill Dale. There he looked into Mirrormere and saw a crown of stars appear above his head. In the caves above the dale, Durin established his realm.

Durin was long-lived and ruled his people for many years. He died before the end of the First Age, and he was laid to rest in Khazad-dum. But his line continued and the realm of Khazad-dum grew and expanded over the course of the centuries. The halls were filled with light and music. The Dwarves found great riches, including the hard, malleable, silver-colored metal called mithril, which was found nowhere else in Middle-earth. They forged weapons and wrought many things of beauty, and they traded their works of skill with Men for food.

In the Second Age, Khazad-dum reached the height of its glory. Around the year 40, many Dwarves came to Khazad-dum from the Blue Mountains after the Dwarf cities of Nogrod and Belegost were destroyed during the War of Wrath with Morgoth at the end of the First Age. These Dwarves brought new skills and talents with them, and the wealth and power of Khazad-dum increased.

The Elves founded the realm of Eregion on the western side of the Misty Mountains in the year 750 of the Second Age. They engaged in trade with the Dwarves of Khazad-dum and traffic flowed in and out of the West-gate. The two races were on friendly terms, and in particular the great craftsmen - Narvi of the Dwarves and Celebrimbor of the Elves - became close friends. Together they wrought the Doors of Durin, which stood open most of the time guarded only by doorwards, for the land was at peace.

Around 1200 of the Second Age, Sauron came to Eregion in a fair disguise and insinuated himself with the Elven-smiths. From Sauron the Elves learned secret skills and lore and around 1500 they began making the Rings of Power. Seven of these Rings were for the Dwarves, and it is said that the first of these Rings was given King Durin III of Khazad-dum by the Elven-smiths.

But Sauron forged the One Ring in secret to rule the others and Celebrimbor became aware that they had been deceived. Celebrimbor hid the Three Rings of the Elves - which he had made himself without Sauron's help. Sauron was enraged and he declared war on the Elves. In 1697, Eregion was destroyed and Celebrimbor was slain. Sauron took the Nine Rings of Men and the remaining six Rings of the Dwarves.

King Durin III sent a host of Dwarves from Khazad-dum to aid the Elves, but they were forced to retreat. The Dwarves shut fast the Doors of Durin and Sauron's forces were unable to breach them. Sauron came to hate the Dwarves of Khazad-dum and his Orcs pursued the Dwarves wherever they found them. Orcs infested other parts of the Misty Mountains as well as the Grey Mountains. Communication between the Dwarves of Khazad-dum and the Dwarves of other places such as the Iron Hills became difficult.

During the War of the Last Alliance at the end of the Second Age, some Dwarves from Khazad-dum fought with the Men and Elves against the forces of Sauron. In that war, Sauron was defeated and afterwards the One Ring was lost.

Sauron returned in secret around 1100 of the Third Age, and by 1300 evil things began to multiply again. Orcs attacked Dwarves in the Misty Mountains, though Khazad-dum remained impregnable. The Dwarves of Khazad-dum maintained their wealth, but their numbers began to dwindle. They began to delve more deeply for mithril, which was becoming harder to find.

While mining for mithril in 1980, the Dwarves discovered a terrible creature in the depths of Khazad-dum. It was a Balrog - a demon of shadow and flame created by Morgoth in the First Age. It had escaped the War of Wrath and had hidden at the roots of the Redhorn. The Balrog may have awoken when Sauron began to stir once more, or it may have been roused by the delving of the Dwarves. King Durin VI was slain by the Balrog, and the next year it killed his son King Nain I. The Dwarves of Khazad-dum fled and scattered far and wide across Middle-earth.

Khazad-dum came to be known as Moria, the Black Chasm, and few people dared to enter its gates. Around 2480, Sauron sent Orcs, Trolls, and other evil creatures to live there. In 2509 in the Redhorn Gate over the Mountains of Moria, Elrond's wife Celebrian was abducted by Orcs. She was wounded and tormented before her sons Elladan and Elrohir were able to rescue her.

King Thror of Durin's line came to the Dimrill Gate of Moria with his companion Nar in 2790. He had become tired of wandering homeless and poor and he dreamed of recovering the wealth and majesty of Khazad-dum. He entered the Dimrill Gate alone and was slain by the Orc-leader Azog, who cut off Thror's head and carved his name on the Dwarf's forehead. Azog threw Thror's body into the Dimrill Dale and told Nar to warn his people that they would meet the same fate if they returned to Khazad-dum.

The Dwarves were enraged, and Thror's son Thrain mustered an army to wage war against the Orcs of the Misty Mountains in 2793. In 2799 they came to the Dimrill Dale and the Battle of Azanulbizar was fought before the gates of Khazad-dum. Azog was slain by Dain Ironfoot and the Dwarves were victorious, though they suffered great loss. But Dain looked through the Dimrill Gate and perceived that Durin's Bane, the Balrog, still dwelled within. He counselled Thrain that the time had not yet come to recolonize Khazad-dum, saying: "The world must change and some other power than ours must come before Durin's Folk walk again in Moria." (App. A, p. 356)

In 2989, Balin led an expedition to Moria with a number of Dwarves from the Lonely Mountain, including Floi, Frar, Loni, Nali, Oin, and Ori. When they arrived in the Dimrill Dale, Balin and the Dwarves found Orcs guarding the Dimrill Gate. Floi was killed, but the Dwarves slew many Orcs and took up residence in the Twenty-first Hall. Ori began to keep a record of the colony called the Book of Mazarbul.

Balin set up his seat in the Chamber of Mazarbul and was named Lord of Moria. The Dwarves found mithril in Moria but their colony lasted only five years. On November 10, 2994, Balin went into Dimrill Dale to look into Mirrormere and was shot and killed by an Orc. He was entombed in the Chamber of Mazarbul.

Many more Orcs came up the Silverlode. The Dwarves barred the Dimrill Gate, but the Orcs broke through and took the Bridge of Khazad-dum and the Second Hall. Frar, Loni, and Nali were killed there. At the West-gate, a pool formed by the dammed Gate-stream prevented the Dwarves from escaping. An aquatic creature with many tentacles called the Watcher in the Water killed Oin. The Dwarves were besieged and all of them perished. Moria was reclaimed by the Orcs.

On January 13, 3019, the Fellowship of the Ring arrived at the West-gate of Moria. With the help of a hint from Merry Brandybuck, Gandalf at last discovered the password and the Doors of Durin opened. At that moment, Frodo Baggins - the Ring-bearer - was attacked by the Watcher in the Water. The Fellowship fled into Moria and the doors were blocked behind them by the Watcher.

Gollum was at the West-gate when the Fellowship came in. He had entered Moria through the East-gate the previous August and had become lost in the tunnels. As the Fellowship began their eastward journey through the Mines, Gollum trailed them.

When the Fellowship came to the archway where the three corridors diverged, Gandalf could not recall which way to take, so they camped in the guardroom for the night. Pippin Took threw a stone down the well in the guardroom and far below the sounded of tapping hammers was heard as if in response.

The next morning of January 14, Gandalf decided to take the right-hand passage that rose upward. After eight hours, the Fellowship came to the Twenty-first Hall where they camped for the night. On January 15, they found the Chamber of Mazarbul and Balin's Tomb. Gandalf read from the Book of Mazarbul and they learned the tragic fate of Balin's colony in Moria, and Gimli mourned the loss of his kinsman.

Suddenly the Fellowship heard drums pounding and realized they were trapped. They barred the western door but kept the east door ajar. A Cave-troll thrust its foot through the door and Frodo stabbed it with Sting. But the Orcs managed to break down the door and a battle ensued in the chamber. Frodo was speared by an Orc-chieftain, but was saved by his mithril shirt. Sam Gamgee received a gash on the head and managed to kill an Orc. The others fought valiantly and thirteen Orcs were slain; the rest fled.

The Fellowship left the chamber through the east door. Gandalf attempted to seal the door with a spell, but he sensed an opposing presence in the chamber beyond and the effort to counter it cost him much strength. The walls and door of the Chamber of Mazarbul collapsed and Balin's Tomb was buried in rubble.

Gandalf led the Fellowship down to the Second Hall in the First Deep. They ran to the Bridge of Khazad-dum and were pursued by a fiery creature that Legolas realized was a Balrog. As the others reached the far side of the abyss, Gandalf turned to confront the Balrog. He shattered the Balrog's sword with Glamdring and the Balrog leaped onto the bridge. Aragorn and Boromir started to come to his aid, but Gandalf smote the bridge with his staff and shattered the rock under the Balrog's feet. The Balrog's fiery whip dragged Gandalf to the edge of the abyss, and with a cry of "Fly, you fools!" Gandalf fell into shadow as his friends looked on helplessly. Aragorn led the Fellowship through the First Hall and out the Dimrill Gate.

Gandalf fell into the deep abyss with the Balrog, burned by his fire, until they landed in a subterranean lake. The Balrog's fire was quenched but still he fought Gandalf in the caverns deep under the roots of the mountains. Then they climbed the Endless Stair to the pinnacle of the Silvertine where they fought the Battle of the Peak from January 23 to January 25. In the struggle, Durin's Tower was destroyed and the entrance to the stair was blocked. At last Gandalf smote the Balrog down upon the mountainside.

Gandalf passed into darkness out of thought and time, but Eru sent him back to Middle-earth as Gandalf the White to complete his task. He awoke on February 14 on the peak of the Silvertine and was trapped there until Gwaihir the Windlord came on February 17 and bore him to Lothlorien.

There is no detailed information on what became of Khazad-dum after the War of the Ring. However, according to one source (HoME XII, p. 278) there came a time when a king named Durin VII returned to Khazad-dum and its halls were filled with light and music and the sound of hammers once more and the realm endured until the world grew old and the days of Durin's race were over.

Important Dates:

Ancient Times? - First Age?:

Durin founds the realm of Khazad-dum and rules until his death. (Dates unknown.)

Second Age:

c. 40
Dwarves from Nogrod and Belegost come to Khazad-dum.

The Elves found the realm of Eregion west of Khazad-dum.

Sauron comes to Eregion in disguise.

c. 1500
The Rings of Power are forged in Eregion.

Sauron forges the One Ring and the Elves realized they've been deceived.

Sauron invades Eriador.

Sauron destroys Eregion. Durin III sends out a force, but they retreat and the Doors of Durin are shut.

Some Dwarves from Khazad-dum fight in the War of the Last Alliance. Sauron is defeated.

Third Age:

Sauron returns in secret and builds Dol Guldur in Mirkwood.

Evil things begin to multiply and Orcs begin to attack Dwarves in the Misty Mountains.

The Balrog awakes and kills King Durin VI.

The Balrog kills King Nain I and the Dwarves flee Khazad-dum.

Sauron sends Orcs, Trolls and other evil creatures to live in Khazad-dum, now called Moria.

Celebrian is captured by Orcs in the Redhorn Pass.

Thror enters the Dimrill Gate of Moria and is slain by Azog.

The War of the Dwarves and the Orcs begins.

Battle of Azanulbizar outside the Dimrill Gate. The Dwarves are victorious but do not recolonize Moria, where the Balrog still dwells.

Balin comes to Moria and establishes a colony of Dwarves.

Balin and the other Dwarves are killed and Orcs reclaim Moria.

August: Gollum enters Moria through the East-gate and becomes lost.

January 13: The Fellowship enter Moria. They spend the night in the guardroom where Pippin drops a stone down the well.
January 14: The Fellowship reach Hall 21 and camp there.
January 15: The Fellowship discover the Chamber of Mazarbul and learn Balin's fate. They fight Orcs in the chamber and flee to the Bridge of Khazad-dum, where Gandalf confronts the Balrog and falls into the abyss. Aragorn leads the others out of Moria.
January 23: Gandalf and the Balrog climb the Endless Stair to the peak of the Silvertine.
January 25: Gandalf casts down the Balrog. Gandalf dies and his body lies on the peak.

February 14: Gandalf returns to life and lies on the peak in a trance.
February 17: Gwaihir rescues Gandalf from the peak.

Fourth Age?:
Khazad-dum is reestablished by Durin VII.

Names & Etymology:

Khazad-dum was called Hadhodrond by the Elves and the Dwarrowdelf by Men. Dwarrowdelf is an anglicized representation of the Common Speech name Phurunargian. After Khazad-dum was taken over by evil creatures it was called the Mines of Moria or simply Moria - the Black Pit or Black Chasm.

Khazad-dûm means "Mansion of the Dwarves" from khazad, the Dwarves' name for their own race, and dûm meaning "excavations, halls."
Appendix F of The Lord of the Rings: "The Languages and Peoples of the Third Age," p. 415

The Sindarin name Hadhodrond is the equivalent of Khazad-dum. The word Hadhod, or Hadhodrim, was a name used for the Dwarves in an attempt to approximate the sounds of the word Khazad in the Elvish tongue. The word rond means "vaulted or arched roof" or a chamber or hall with such a roof.
The History of Middle-earth, vol. XI, The War of the Jewels: "Quendi and Eldar - Appendix B: Elvish Names for the Dwarves," p. 387-88
The Silmarillion: "Appendix - Elements in Quenya and Sindarin Names," entry for rond

Dwarrowdelf means "Dwarf-delving" from dwarrow, an archaic plural of dwarf and delf, or "delving, mining."
Appendix F of The Lord of the Rings: "The Languages and Peoples of the Third Age," p. 415

The name Phurunargian is the actual Common Speech name for the Dwarrowdelf, also meaning "Dwarf-delving." The word phuru is derived from phur meaning "to delve" and the word nargian is related to narac meaning "dwarf."
The History of Middle-earth, vol XII, The Peoples of Middle-earth: "The Appendix on Languages," p. 44

Moria means "black chasm" in Sindarin. The word mor means "dark, black" and the word means "void, abyss."
The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien: Letter #297


The Hobbit: "An Unexpected Party" p. 33-34; "A Short Rest," p. 62; "Over Hill and Under Hill," p. 66; "The Clouds Burst," p. 292, 295

The Fellowship of the Ring: "The Council of Elrond," p. 253-55, 281-82; "The Ring Goes South," p. 296; "A Journey in the Dark," passim; "The Bridge of Khazad-dum," passim; "Lothlorien," p. 347-49, 351-52, 358, 364; "The Mirror of Galadriel," p. 370-71, 374, 375; "Farewell to Lorien," p. 384-85; "The Great River," p. 399-400, 404; "The Breaking of the Fellowship," p. 417

The Two Towers: "The Departure of Boromir," p. 18; "The Riders of Rohan," p. 38; "Treebeard," p. 75; "The White Rider," 105-106; "Helm's Deep," p. 140; "The Road to Isengard," p. 153; "Flotsam and Jetsam," p. 167, 175; "The Black Gate Is Closed," p. 252; "Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit," p. 266; "The Window on the West," p. 271, 279, 285-86; "Shelob's Lair," p. 326

The Return of the King: "Minas Tirith," p. 31; "Mount Doom," p. 211; "Many Partings," p. 263

Appendix A of The Lord of the Rings: "Durin's Folk," p. 352-58

Appendix F of The Lord of the Rings: "The Languages and Peoples of the Third Age," p. 415

The Silmarillion: "Of the Sindar," p. 91; "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age," p. 286-89, 294; "Appendix - Elements in Quenya and Sindarin Names," entry for rond

Unfinished Tales: "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn," p. 235-38; "The Hunt for the Ring," p. 345

The History of Middle-earth, vol. XI, The War of the Jewels: "Quendi and Eldar - Appendix B: Elvish Names for the Dwarves," p. 387-88

The History of Middle-earth, vol XII, The Peoples of Middle-earth: "The Appendix on Languages," p. 44; "The Making of Appendix A," p. 278 (on the recolonization of Khazad-dum by Durin VII); "Of Dwarves and Men," p. 301-305

The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull: "A Journey in the Dark," passim; "The Bridge of Khazad-dum," passim

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