Paleontologists from South Africa have filed a formal request to exhume the remains of William Shakespeare and test the corpse to confirm or deny allegations that the famous playwright was an avid pot smoker, reports The Week
Francis Thackeray, the lead anthropologist for the scientific group, hopes to scan Shakespeare’s bones and retrieve DNA samples. He believes a thorough re-examination of the corpse could determine cause of death, definitive age and gender, and affinity for drugs.
In 2001, Thackeray was part of another South African team that claimed to find evidence of 17th-century smoking pipes in the garden of Shakespeare’s home. The pipe remains had traces of cannabis, and coupled with a number of bizarre references in Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets, have led many to believe that Shakespeare was an avid smoker.
Though the Church of England has not confirmed a formal submission of the request, Shakespeare’s tomb provides a clear warning: “Bleste be the man that spares thes stones, And curst be he that moves my bones.”
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