Monday, February 29, 2016

Does Scanning Bones Count As Disturbing Them?

There's been talk for years about excavating Shakespeare's grave, and of course that's never going to happen, but plan B has always been to scan the ground and see what's under there because we just can't leave well enough alone.  Apparently it's finally been done, and we have to wait to learn the results.

I'm not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand I want to know everything.  But on the other, I mean, the man's dead, what right do we have to go checking him out in his final resting place? Why exactly is taking a quick peek any better than breaking out the shovels?  I prefer the Schrodinger's Cat interpretation of Shakespeare's curse:

Good friend, for Jesus' sake forebeare,
To digg the dust enclosed heare;
Bleste be the man that spares thes stones,
And curst be he that moves my bones.
Forget the literal dig and move nonsense, since certainly those were the only methods of disturbance that the author (likely not Shakespeare, of course) could imagine.  Clearly the desire, as really it should be with all graves, is to leave it the hell alone.


Bardiac said...

Fascinating! For me, the question is what changes? I mean, if they find, say, a tiger skeleton, will it change anything for those of us who read/teach/play Shakespeare? If they find 20 human skeletons? One? None?

I don't think there's much likelihood that whatever they find will matter much to anyone beyond tourists to Stratford-Upon-Avon and the people who make money off of tourism there (or elsewhere where one might display an image, perhaps).

Duane Morin said...

The problem is that as somebody that follows Shakespeare stories in the news, here's what's going to happen. EVERY last shred of interest that can be taken from the findings will be turned into press releases, and we will have to read about it ad nauseam. Every press release will be 90% standard public domain knowledge about Mr. Shakespeare, and one paragraph about an actual detail. And it will go on forever.

Worse, anything even remotely interesting will only be more motivation to eventually dig him up. Slippery slope, and all that.