Caitlin O'toole
May 08, 1998 12:00 AM

South African scientists have discovered several 17th century clay pipes near the home of William Shakespeare, some of which contained a hallucinogenic substance, reports the Associated Press. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, allowed the researchers to perform a chemical analysis on 24 pipe fragments, and the results showed traces of tobacco, camphor and myristic acid, which has hallucinogenic properties. ( reports that the pipes also contained traces of cocaine.) “We do not claim that any of the pipes belonged to Shakespeare himself. However, we do know t hat 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 in the project. “The results suggest that at least one hallucinogenic substance was accessible to Shakespeare and his contemporaries at a time when smoking was a novelty in England.” The use of drugs in Shakespeare’s time may have inspired his “Sonnet 76,” in which he refers to a “noted weed” and “compounds strange,” Thackeray said. But kids, don’t try this at home.

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