It’s not the shortest trip from the safety of Rivendell (or Imraldis) to the evil depths of Mordor. Along with the assorted dangers of orcs, spiders and scrawny, loin cloth-wearing jewellery thieves, one has to make sure they don’t starve to death. Fortunately, the Fellowship had a supply of lembas, or elven travel bread. But how much would they have really needed? Science has it covered.
Skye Rosetti and Krisho Manaharan, a pair or researchers from the University of Leicester’s Centre for Interdisciplinary Science, decided to tackle the problem the only sensible way — with numbers and formulas.
First, they calculated the calorie consumption of each race — hobbits, men and elves — using the basal metabolic rate of “animal analogues”. Perhaps not entirely accurate, but it’s the most adorable use of science I’ve ever seen:
… the basal metabolic rates (BMR) for the different species in Middle Earth were modelled using animal analogues (foxes for humans, deer for elves and possums for hobbits). The daily calorie consumptions were, for 34-year-old males of each species with average heights and weights:
Hobbits: 1818.61 kcal/day
Men: 1702.2 kcal/day
Elves: 1416.95 kcal/day
Seeing how hobbits need to eat constantly, I’m not sure that value is anywhere near conservative enough. Not that it matters, after doing the maths, it quickly became clear the amount of lembas required to keep all nine members of the original Fellowship alive is, uh, prohibitive:
The Fellowship of the Ring were supposed to travel from Imraldis to the forges of Mt. Doom in order to destroy the One Ring of Sauron … the total calorific consumption of the 92-day journey was found to be 1,780,214.59 kcal.
Almost two million kilocalories. What’s that in lembas?
If the elves of Imraldis had provided the Fellowship with lembas, this would equate to them having to carry a total of 675 pieces, or 75 pieces each. For the different species, this equates to 304 for the hobbits, 214 for Gandalf, Aragorn and Boromir; 99 for Gimli and 60 for Legolas.
675 pieces of lembas? I think you’d have had a hard time convincing even Samwise to share that load.