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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Did Shakespeare smoke pot?

Paleontologists want to dig up the Bard

David Edwards on The Raw Story reports that is team of paleontologists (yes, the same guys and gals who study extinct human beings) want to exhume Shakespeare to find out if he was a real hippie.

Whether, in a word, he smoked weed.

The surprisingly aptly named Francis Thackeray -- an anthropologist who heads the Institute for Human Evolution at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa -- has applied formally to the Church of England to exhume the greatest extinct writer of all.

Well, they are not actually going to lift the skeleton out of its last resting place.  "We have incredible techniques," he assured the very worried interviewer on Fox News.  "We don't intend to remove the remains at all."

They simply want to sample it.  First, they want to make sure it really is Shakespeare. (Shades of that old Francis Bacon canard?)  Then they will inspect the teeth (if any) to check what the owner's health had been like, and hopefully even find out the cause of his death.

And then, oh then, they will carry out tests to see if he smoked marijuana.

Was marijuana even available at English country corner stores in the sixteenth century?  Apparently so.  According to the press release, pips found in the garden of Shakespeare's home in 2001 showed traces of cannabin and cocaine.  (They smoked cocaine?)  They also inform us that Shakespeare's Sonnet 76 refers to the "noted weed."

"There were very few concentrations of cannabis, but the signature was there," claims Tommy van der Merwe, who tested the pipes at South Africa's Forensic Science Laboratory.  According to him, they had the same reading as a modern crack pipe.

Good lord and bless me!

As the Bard himself would have riposted:

Now this ill-wresting world is grown so bad
That slanderers by mad ears believed be

Sonnet 140.


Davin Allan said...

" exhume the greatest extinct writer of all."

Using the word extinct implies that he is no longer culturally significant... if so, I disagree.

Joan Druett said...

I totally agree. I was making a sarcastic comment. Who do these anthropolists/paleontologists think they are, mucking around with the remains of the Bard? For them, it seems, the entire human race is just a subject for objective study. Nosy parkers, those anthropolists!

Joan Druett said...

And one day (maybe) I will remember how to spell anthropologist!