Mummies of Guanajuato, Mexico are not your average mummy. What makes them unique? There are several reasons why they are rare. The number one would have to be that they weren't mummified intentionally. Their mummification was caused by extremely dry weather conditions along with an overcrowded cemetery.
At one time, the town charged a fee to bury loved ones in the cemetery which could be paid in one large sum or in annual installments. However, if payments were discontinued, the bodies were removed to free up more space. Several corpses were exhumed sometime in the late 1800s. The townspeople were surprised to find that some of the bodies had been mummified.
Bodies located in a middle row of tombs were mostly likely to become mummified. Why? They were untainted by the rare moisture from rain or groundwater. Despite the unintentional mummification, they represented a broad social spectrum of the community considering the wealthy and powerful citizen were only known to mummify their loved ones.
The Guanajuato mummies have inspired numerous local legends. An infant is known there as the world's smallest mummy. It is said that they infant died after being born by cesarean section. It's mother didn't survive the procedure either and was mummified as well. They are both displayed in the town's mummy museum.
Another legend revolved around a woman who was believed to be buried alive. Some clues added to the validity of this legend. It was stated that she was buried faced down with her arms over her face. Scratches were also found on her forehead. However, this still remains a legend until scientists can provide accurate evidence saying otherwise.
Another Guanajuato mummy was believed to have been hanged. Although there was evidence to prove this to be false. The trachea was intact and the next vertebrae showed no trauma associated with a hanging. Conclusion, the man died but not at the end of a rope.
It is not certain how many mummies were recovered. However, The Guanajuato Mummy Museum has over 100 mummies displayed. Since the law changed, no more graves have been or will be disturbed.
I'll leave you with a question: Considering the circumstances, should these mummies be put on display or given a proper burial?
*Handwerk, Brian (October 31, 2002) "Accidental" Mummies on Display in Mexico. Retrieved on February 23, 2006 from the National Geographic News website: http://news.nationalgeographic.com.