Exhumation of Shakespeare to determine cause of death and drug test

Jun 27, 2011 by Deborah Braconnier report
Shakespeare

(PhysOrg.com) -- Director of the Institute for Human Evolution, anthropologist Francis Thackeray has formally petitioned the Church of England to allow him to exhume the body of William Shakespeare in order to determine the cause of his death.

Thackeray is best known for his controversial suggestion nearly a decade ago which pointed to the possibility that Shakespeare had been a regular smoker. Utilizing , Thackeray examined 24 pipes which had been discovered in Shakespeare’s garden and determined that they had been used to smoke the drug.

Citing that even after 400 years, Shakespeare is still one of the most famous people in history, Thackeray hopes to be able to end the question of how he died and establish a health history. With new state-of-the-art computer equipment he hopes to create a three dimensional reconstruction of Shakespeare. The hope is to be able to determine the kind of life he led, any diseases of medical conditions he may have suffered from and what ultimately caused his death.

The new technology, nondestructive analysis, will not require the remains to be moved but will instead scan the bones. They are also hoping to collect DNA from Shakespeare and his wife and sister, all who are buried at Holy Trinity Church.

Thackeray also hopes to find evidence to back his controversial claims years ago regarding Shakespeare’s marijuana smoking. Examining the teeth could provide the evidence they need. If they are able to discover grooves between the incisor and canine teeth, it could show them he was chewing on a pipe.

This plan however goes against the final wishes of Shakespeare himself who had the following words engraved on his tomb: “Good frend for Jesus sake forebeare, To dig the dust encloased heare, Bleste be the man that spares thes stones, And curst be he that moves my bones.”

The Church of England denies that any requests have been made to exhume Shakespeare’s body but Thackeray and his team hopes to gain approval in time to be able to make the determination before the 400th anniversary of his death in 2016.

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User comments : 10

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WhiteJim
5 / 5 (1) Jun 27, 2011
Then they can find out once and for all that he was an Italian.
HaveYouConsidered
3 / 5 (2) Jun 27, 2011
They want this done before his 400th birthday, like they're afraid he's going to spoil? I hardly think that the question at hand, about his smoking pot, is cause enough to disturb his grave. But is there an ulterior motive? They could sample his DNA and compare it to Bacon's family lineage, for example.
Javinator
5 / 5 (4) Jun 27, 2011
If it was his final wish not to have the grave disturbed I say have a little respect and don't disturb the grave.
LKD
not rated yet Jun 27, 2011
I doubt he IS the Earl, or Bacon, or whoever the purported noble of the month who actually wrote the plays is. A DNA test would be rather unremarkable, unless I'm missing something obvious?

I'm with Javi, leave the dead body alone and lets move on with more important things. He wasn't assassinated in the prime of his life or anything terribly tragic. He actually retired previous to his natural death.
FroShow
3 / 5 (2) Jun 27, 2011
People are most likely to pay attention to Shakespeare news on his 400th anniversary; so yes, it is important to do it by then if you'd like to share any new discoveries with as many people as possible.
Heh, Thackeray's an Archaeological Paparazzi.
I doubt Shakespeare could ever have imagined the future value his remains would have to some people, nor the technological abilities we have to study and preserve his remains.
Would this have made any difference to him?
Would there even be controversy if he weren't so popular?
In my opinion, his historical significance (and the details of his life) would eventually outweigh any respect society has for his epitaph and last wishes...
So I say DO IT! Satisfy the people's curiosity while it's still there.
It's not like he could care any more or less, or even at all.
dogbert
2.3 / 5 (3) Jun 27, 2011
Grave robbers continue to rob graves.

Of course Francis Thackeray will try to gain access to Shakespeare's bones -- and he should be denied. Probably won't though. Somehow, the word "anthropologist" makes grave robbing acceptable to many.
Shakescene21
3 / 5 (4) Jun 27, 2011
Most Shakespeare scholars doubt that Shakespeare himself wrote that tombstone inscription. It is trite doggerel compared to the masterful verse in his sonnets and plays. If he did in fact write the inscription, he must have been greatly diminished in his last year.

The man who wrote Hamlet (remember the graveyard scene?) would have few qualms about a high-quality scientific inquiry of his sheleton.
NickFun
5 / 5 (3) Jun 27, 2011
Does it matter in the least if Shakespeare smoked a little hooch? At this point does it really matter how he died? If he didn't die when he did then he surely would have died at some point!
Mauricio
1 / 5 (2) Jun 27, 2011
It seems that mr Francis Thackeray and his supporters do not understand concepts like "privacy", "honor" and "respect".

The only thing he probably understand would be "fame" and "attention" ?

"Great" that Europe is becoming atheist, it shows in its new moral system.
Nikola
not rated yet Jun 28, 2011
Jesus Christ leave the man alone! I hope he was a weed smoker though!