What is in a Name? – The Origin of Murex

When choosing a name to capture the qualities of their company, the principals favored a story from ancient Greece: One of the earliest applications of chemical technology was employed by the sea trading Phoenicians. The Phoenicians were best known as traders in sought-after cloth dyed Tyrian purple – the precious dye extracted from a mollusk, the Murex Trunclulus. The innovative production technology, the high quality, and ability to resist fading made the Tyrian purple an exceptional and highly desirable dye, worthy of royal clothing and robes. In the spirit of this creation, Murex Environmental was the name chosen for our company – to emphasize quality and niche innovation in the services the company will perform.
The mythological story on the origin of the Murex’s use as a royal dye is as fascinating as the historical accounts:

Legend says that Hercules was walking on the shore near the Phoenician city Tyre and paying court to Tyrus, a beautiful goddess. His dog started consuming a shellfish, Murex Trunclulus, which was lying on the beach. The pet came away with a muzzle stained with a beautiful crimson-purple. Tyrus demanded a robe of that same color as the price Hercules would have to pay for her hand. Hercules, using his power, was able to gather from the Mediterranean waters enough Murex shellfish to fulfill the wish of his ladylove. Thus goes the legend of the origin of Tyrian purple.

Murex Purple dye

There has been much conjecture as to the precise color the dye-process actually created by the Murex. Because of many variables in the dyeing process, Murex produced different colors – from purple to dark red. Garments of Tyrian Purple were supposedly produced by double-dyeing the fabric, which gave a darker color. As a result, the color produced in that process wasn’t “purple” as we currently understand purple but a dark crimson or even maroon color.
The purple comes from the final compound, 6,6′-dibromoindigo, which has a long string of alternating double bonds: