400-year-old clay tobacco pipes that were discovered in William Shakespeare’s garden were found to have contained evidence of weed. Scientists in Pretoria, South Africa, analyzed residue from the pipes using an advanced forensic technique called gas chromatography mass spectrometry. The technology is sensitive enough to pick up preserved substances even from that long ago.

24 pipe fragments showed cannabis in eight of the samples, with four of them coming from the playwright’s property. There was also nicotine in at least one sample and two that showed traces of Peruvian cocaine. The Independent points out examples in Shakespeare’s works that suggest he was aware of the effects of the drugs:

In Sonnet 76, he writes about “invention in a noted weed”, which could be interpreted to mean that Shakespeare was willing to use “weed”, or cannabis, while he was writing.

And that Shakespeare may have preferred to partake in cannabis during his writing sessions instead of cocaine:

In the same sonnet it appears that he would prefer not to be associated with “compounds strange”, which can be interpreted, at least potentially, to mean “strange drugs” (possibly cocaine).


Contact the author at marie.lodi@jezebel.com.

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