Shakespeare Was a Pothead, Says Anthropologist

Wants to exhume the bard's remains for testing

By Greg Wilson
|  Wednesday, Jun 29, 2011  |  Updated 6:49 AM PDT
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Shakespeare Was a Pothead, Says Anthropologist

Could the Bard have hit the bong?

A South African anthropologist wants to exhume Shakespeare's remains to determine if the literary giant was a pot smoker. Francis Thackeray, director of the Institute for Human Evolution at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, has asked the Church of England for permission to test Shakespeare's fingernails and hair for traces of cannabis.

Thackeray says he found evidence in 2001 of marijuana residue on pipe fragments found in Shakespeare's garden. Pot was grown in England at the time and was used to make textiles and rope, according to LiveScience. The Bard's Sonnet 76 refers to a "noted weed," as well.

"If there is any hair, if there is any keratin from the fingernails or toenails, then we will be in a position to undertake chemical analysis on extremely small samples for marijuana," Thackeray told LiveScience.

A Church of England spokesperson said they have not received Thackery's request, though he says the paperwork is in the pipeline. But even if permission is granted, Thackery will be proceeding at his own risk. Shakespeare's tombstone bears a grave warning.

"Blessed be the man that spares these stones," the engraving reads, "And cursed be he who moves my bones."

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