Generations of readers have cherished Middle-earth, the fantasy universe sprung from the mind of storyteller J.R.R. Tolkien. His magical world has been brought to life in the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, the third of which, The Return of the King, swept every category it was nominated for at the Academy Awards ceremony last night. The movie most notably won Oscars for Best Picture and Directing, among 9 others.
While the author's imagination was vast, Tolkien's world and its cast of characters do have roots in real-world history and geography, from the world wars that dominated Tolkien's lifetime to the ancient language and legends of Finland.
Anthropologist and ethnobotanist Wade Davis traveled to a remote corner of Finland to uncover Tolkien influences that stretch back into the misty past of northern Europe.