According to South African scientists, 400-year-old tobacco pipes containing cannabis were excavated from the garden of William Shakespeare. This recent find suggests that the artist potentially wrote some of his most famous works while high.
Residue from the early 17th-century clay pipes, found both in the playwright’s garden and elsewhere in Stratford-Upon-Avon, were analyzed in Pretoria using a modern, sophisticated technique called gas chromatography mass spectrometry.
As The Huffington Post reports, of the 24 fragments of pipe loaned from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust to the University of the Witwatersrand, cannabis was present in eight samples, four which were from Shakespeare’s garden.
This news really shouldn’t be that surprising, as some of his sonnets suggest he was familiar with the effects of hallucinatory drugs.
For example, in Sonnet 76, Shakespeare wrote about “invention in a noted weed,” which might possibly be interpreted to mean that Shakespeare was willing to use “weed”, or cannabis, while he was summoning inspiration from the ‘heavens.’
Furthermore, in the same sonnet, it appears the playwright would prefer not to be associated with “compounds strange”, which can potentially be interpreted to mean “strange drugs” (possibly cocaine?)…
James Shapiro, a Columbia University professor who has published multiple books about Shakespeare’s life, isn’t so convinced the Shakespeare was a stoner.
He told The Huffington Post:
“We don’t know what Shakespeare did or didn’t do. Just because these pipes were found in his garden doesn’t mean his neighbor kid didn’t throw the pipes over the fence. There are a million possible explanations.”
Still, the recent finding spawns some intriguing conversation. What are your thoughts? Share in the comments section below.
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