An effort is afoot to dig up the body of William Shakespeare:
Paleontologists are looking to examine the remains of William Shakespeare, hoping to unlock the mysteries of the life and death of the world’s most famous playwright — and to prove that the poet once puffed.
The bard is buried under a local church in Stratford-upon-Avon. And a team of scientists, led by Francis Thackeray — an anthropologist and director of the Institute for Human Evolution at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa — have submitted a formal application to the Church of England for permission to probe the site where he sleeps, perchance where he dreams.
Safely, of course.
“We have incredible techniques,” Thackeray told FoxNews.com, referring to the “nondestructive analysis” the team has planned. “We don’t intend to move the remains at all.” Instead the team will perform the forensic analysis using state-of-the-art technology to scan the bones and create a groundbreaking reconstruction.
The first job is to confirm the playwright’s identity, Thackeray said.
“We’ll have to establish the age and gender of the individual,” he told FoxNews.com. The team also plans DNA tests for not only Shakespeare, but also the remains of his wife and sister, also buried at the Holy Trinity Church.
For Thackeray, the next priority is solving the longstanding mystery of Shakespeare’s final days. “We would like to find out the cause of death, which is not known historically.”
If all goes well, he believes the research could ultimately establish a full health history and build a picture of the kind of life the writer led. “Growth increments in the teeth will reveal if he went through periods of stress or illness — a plague for example, which killed many people in the 1600s,” Thackeray explained.
The team also looks to address a controversial suggestion Thackeray made a decade ago, when he examined a collection of two dozen pipes found in the playwright’s garden and determined that Shakespeare was an avid marijuana smoker.
Thackeray claimed the devices were used to smoke cannabis, a plant actively cultivated in Britain at the time. The allegation has provoked disbelief and anger among some fans of the bard.
I wouldn’t do that if I were you. On his tomb, the Bard himself begs people, in Jesus’ name, to leave his body alone. Not only that, he put a curse on anyone who would be so presumptuous as to dig him up:
“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.”
I’m suspicious of this story. The Church of England says that it has received no such request to exhume Shakespeare. Though the Institute and Prof. Thackeray seem to exist, their expertise on Shakespeare sounds very shaky. Yes, people have grown hemp for centuries, but it was used for rope, not dope! There is NO evidence that I have seen, NO documentary evidence, that anyone smoked weed in the 16th or 17th centuries. If that happened, Shakespeare would have written about it.