Did Shakespear Smoke Crack

Topics: Folger Shakespeare Library, Cocaine, Pretoria Pages: 1 (270 words) Published: April 1, 2001
THE SHAKESPEARE Birthplace Trust in Stratford-Upon-Avon in England allowed South African researchers to analyze 24 pipe fragments in Pretoria. Though marijuana degrades over time, eight of those pipe fragments showed signs suggestive of marijuana, the scientists said. Two of the pipe samples tested also showed evidence of cocaine. Others showed traces of tobacco, camphor and a chemical with hallucinogenic properties, the study said. "We do not claim that any of the pipes belonged to Shakespeare himself. However, we do know that some of the pipes come from the area in which he lived, and they date to the 17th century," said Francis Thackeray of the Transvaal Museum, one of the researchers. Georgianna Ziegler, head of reference for the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, said scholars had no proof of narcotics use by Shakespeare, who lived from 1564 to 1616. "I'm not saying that Shakespeare would never have drunk, or eaten, or smoked marijuana, because it was used as a medical remedy at the time. But we have no evidence that he ever used it for pleasure," she said. John Henry, toxicologist and professor at London's Imperial College of Medicine, who was not affiliated with the study, said it was possible that coca leaves - which contain a small amount of cocaine - "were smoked by people in Britain in the 17th century." Cocaine itself did not come to Britain until about 1900, but coca leaves, chewed by many Incas in the 1500s, were transported to Europe in the 17th century by Spanish explorers. The results of the study are published in the South African Journal of Science.
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