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Was William Shakespeare a cocaine cowboy?

If William Shakespeare was alive today, would he be making late-night trips to White Castle? South African anthropologist Francis Thackeray thinks so.

Thackeray, director of the Institute for Human Evolution at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, is requesting Shakespeare’s body be exhumed to investigate cause of death, and to check his hair, fingernails, and toenails for drug use. According to Time, Thackeray also conducted a study in 2001 where he “discovered cannabis residue (along with cocaine) on clay pipe fragments found in Shakespeare’s garden.”

But Thackeray’s request could go up in smoke. Shakespeare’s grave stone in the Church of the Holy Trinity in Stratford-upon-Avon bears the warning: “Blessed be the man that spares these stones. And cursed be he who moves my bones.” The otherworldly threat isn’t deterring Thackeray, though – he told Live Science “his research would use a portable technique called laser surface scanning, which would allow him to digitally scan the skeleton without moving it. Plus, the anthropologist noted, the curse ‘does not refer to teeth.’”
  • Justin Beach

    I’m guessing Thackeray’s chances of getting an exhumation is roughly equal to his chances of getting to dig up a few Popes for autopsies. I don’t think whether or not Shakespear did drugs is all that important a question, historically.

  • MJH

    This is so stupid. The cocaine alkaloid was first isolated by the German chemist Friedrich Gaedcke in 1855. How would Shakespeare have used cocaine? Was he also a time traveler?

  • Justin Beach

    The alkaloid wasn’t isolated until 1855 but natives in places like Peru and Columbia had been using coca leaves for 3000+ years. If Shakespeare had access to it it was probably the leaves, or possibly a paste made from the leaves – which is fairly mild.

  • MJH

    Which he smoked? Come on. It’s all BS.

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