Núrnen was located in the southeast of Mordor. It was fed by rivers flowing down from the outcroppings of the Ephel Dúath and Ered Lithui that separated the volcanic plateau of Gorgoroth from the fertile volcanic plains of Nurn, and its waters were described by Tolkien as "the dark, sad waters of Lake Núrnen". Its waters are often claimed to have been saltwater, but this is not supported in any of Tolkien's writings. Its waters were likely used for irrigation purposes to water the fields of Nurn.
In The Atlas of Middle-earth, Karen Wynn Fonstad assumed that the Sea of Rhûn and Sea of Núrnen were the remnants of the inland Sea of Helcar. The atlas was however published before The Peoples of Middle-earth, where it was revealed that the Sea of Rhûn existed already in the First Age, as an apparently different body of water than the Sea of Helcar.
Portrayal in adaptions Edit
The only adaption of the Sea of Nurnen is the game Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. It depicts Mordor just after Sauron's return before the War of the Ring. In this game the history of Mordor's inland sea is enriched: after the War of the Last Alliance Gondor built defensive outposts around Nurnen to watch over it and protect the lands around it from invading forces from the south trying to enter Mordor through the Nargil Pass. The southern tributary of the Sea of Nurnen is also given a name, the Gurthrant river(possibly borrowed from MERP). However, when the Great Plague struck from the east, the Gondorian forts were abandoned, allowing the Corsairs of Umbar to claim them as places from which to direct pirate raids into Ithilien and Khand. Over the time these Corsairs, separated from their evil lords in Umbar, settled down as a peaceful independant nation, naming themselves the Tribesmen of Nurn and starting to farm the fertile lands around Mordor's inland sea. However, when Sauron returned, he fought with the Tribesmen - even though they tried to defend against him they were trapped inside Mordor, so he enslaved them to make food for his growing armies.
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