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Tyrian purple

From Academic Kids

Tyrian purple is a purple dye first made in the ancient Phoenician city of Tyre. It was made from a secretion of various marine snails, such as Banded Dye-Murex Murex trunculus giving "Hyacinth Purple" and Spiny Dye-Murex Murex brandaris giving the Tyrian purple. The dye was expensive: Aristotle assigns a value ten to twenty times its weight in gold. The fast, non-fading dye was an item of luxury trade, prized by Romans, who used it to colour ceremonial robes.

The Roman mythographer Julius Pollux, writing in the second century CE, asserted (Onomasticon I, 45—49) that the purple dye was first discovered by Heracles, or rather, by his dog, whose mouth was stained purple from chewing on snails along the coast of the Levant. The myth has been discredited as mere cultural boasting. Recently, the archaeological discovery of substantial numbers of Murex shells on Crete suggests that the Minoans may have pioneered the extraction of Royal purple centuries before the Tyrians. Dating from colocated pottery, suggests the dye may have been produced during the Middle Minoan period in the 20th–18th century BCE.

Pliny the Elder described the dyeing process of two purples in his Natural History. The main chemical constituent of the Tyrian dye was discovered by Paul Friedlšnder in 1909 to be 6,6'-dibromoindigo, a substance that had previously been synthesized in 1903. However, it has never been synthesized commercially.

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See also

nl:Purper (verfstof)

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