Archaeologists working in Mexico's Palenque ruins have uncovered a mask believed to represent the 7th-century ruler Pakal the Great, one of the ancient Mayan world's most prolific figures.
The team of specialists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) made the discovery of the mask when working at House E of Palenque's Palace building, Reuters reports.
The details of the mask suggest the depiction could represent Pakal the Great in his old age. Ritual objects such as ceramic figures, carved bones and flint were also discovered nearby.
Research on the mask is still being carried out, but if proven true this is the first depiction of Pakal the Great in his old age.
"It is not a representation of a god. After looking at some images, it's possible that it is Pakal the Great. We are quite sure of this at this time," said archaeologist Arnoldo Gonzalez.
"During this process, under the (mask) head there were figurines, ceramic pieces, small plates, a lot of fish bones, which gives insight of a possible relationship with aquatics."
Born in the 7th century, Pakal the Great is said to have ascended to the throne aged 12 and was reportedly king for some 68 years.
During his long reign, he led a prosperous government in the ancient city of Palenque and is believed to have been behind the building of its finest architecture.
Today, the abandoned Mayan city of Palenque is one of Mexico's most popular tourist destinations with thousands of international visitors marvelling at the area's artefacts.