June 29, 2011

Anthropologist ask to dig up Shakespeare's grave to see if he was a pothead


(Via Time Magazine.) In a 2001 study, Francis Thackeray, the director of the Institute for Human Evolution at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, found cannabis and cocaine residue on fragments of a clay pipe in Shakespeare’s garden. Now Thackeray wants to …

… dig up Shakespeare’s grave—along with the resting places of his family—to see if the skeleton could determine the cause of the bard’s death. Hair and keratin from fingernails and toenails could also reveal a pattern of drug use, while a chemical analysis of teeth could expose the use of tobacco or marijuana.

However, Thackeray risks evoking Shakespeare’s curse.

The stone covering of [Shakespeare’s] grave, located in the Church of the Holy Trinity in Stratford-upon-Avon, bears this warning: “Blessed be the man that spares these stones. And cursed be he who moves my bones.”