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The Sceptre of Annúminas was a silver rod originally borne by the Lords of Andúnië in Númenor, and it was patterned after the sceptre of the Kings of Númenor. The sceptre of the Kings was lost with Ar-Pharazôn in the destruction of Númenor in 3319 of the Second Age. But Elendil, the last Lord of Andúnië, took his sceptre with him when he escaped from Númenor and came to Middle-earth and founded the Kingdoms of Gondor and Arnor. While the Kings of Gondor wore a crown, the Kings of Arnor bore the sceptre. It became known as the Sceptre of Annúminas, the original capital of the North-kingdom. After the North-kingdom was divided in 861 the sceptre passed to the Kings of Arthedain, and then, after Arthedain ceased to exist in 1974, to the Chieftains of the Dúnedain. Since the Dúnedain were a wandering people, the sceptre and other heirlooms were kept at Rivendell, home of Elrond.
By the end of the Third Age, the Sceptre of Annúminas was over 5,000 years old and was the oldest artifact of Men in Middle-earth, barring the Ring of Barahir which was gifted to Barahir by the elven king Finrod Felagund in the First Age as a symbol of the eternal friendship between men and elves. On Midsummer's Eve of 3019, Elrond brought the Sceptre of Annúminas to Minas Tirith and gave it to Aragorn, King Elessar, of the Reunited Kingdom of Gondor and Arnor.
The Sceptre of Annúminas was so named because the Kings of Arnor initially ruled from the city of Annúminas. The name Annúminas means "tower of the west." A sceptre, or scepter, is a staff held by a king as an emblem of authority.