This questions was inspired by a group of paleontologists from South Africa led by Francis Thackeray who have submitted a formal application to exhume William Shakespeare from his grave at Stratford-upon-Avon. Among other objectives, the group hopes to shed light on the decade-old rumor that Shakespeare was a pothead.
The rumor started a decade ago when scientists—Thackeray among them— studied 17th century smoking pipes, including a few found in the garden of Shakespeares home. In the pipes the scientists found traces of canibus and cocaine, leading the researchers to speculate that the “noted weed” which Shakespeare referred to in a sonnet was actually marijuana.
“We can’t prove that Shakespeare smoked these pipes, but we do now at least know what his contemporaries were smoking,” said Thackeray, reports National Geographic News.
But if they exhume the play write and digitally scan his bones, they’ll be closer to a definitive answer. “If we find grooves between the canine and the incisor, that will tell us if he was chewing on a pipe as well as smoking,” Thackeray told FoxNews.com.
But will it definitely mean that he was smoking pot? Or that the “noted weed” was marijuana? And if so, besides verifying an epic piece of stoner trivia, what do we gain from this knowledge?
If Thackeray gets the go-ahead and all evidence concludes that the Bard liked to toke, potheads everywhere will quietly nod to themselves and grin slyly—it’s an established fact among potheads that creative geniuses love weed.
But the questions remain: does weed unleashes creative inspiration, or does it dull the the genius’ synapses, allowing him or her to focus? Or does it stunt geniuses, making their work more relatable?
None of these questions will be answered by exhuming Shakespeare. And while I love facts about marijuana and Shakespeare (separately or together), I personally think we should leave the poor Bard’s bones at rest and instead continue to study is work.
His gravestone reads: “Good frend for Jesus sake forebeare,/ To digg the dust encloased heare;/ Bleste be the man that spares thes stones,/ And curst be he that moves my bones.”
[Via The Week]