A MYSTERIOUS palace which was home to a bloodthirsty and wealthy ruler some 2,300 years ago has been discovered in Mexico.
The incredible building was once the home and business center for the ruler of an ancient empire which pre-dates the Aztecs, scientists have claimed.
The 2,790 square metre, two-storey building was unearthed in El Palenque, in the Oaxaca Valley.
It would have provided comfortable living quarters for the ruler and his family and boasted all the mod cons, including a cistern for collecting rainwater in the living areas and a drain carved into stone to bring in fresh water and remove waste.
But it came with gruesome addition of a sacrificial space, where humans would have their hearts removed or be decapitated in honor of the gods.
The Oaxaca Valley is home to several incredible ancient finds
Scientists Elsa Redmond and Charles Spencer, who helped excavate the palace along with the American Museum of Natural History, believe the construction techniques used by the builders suggested the building was designed ahead of time.
It was probably built in one bout of construction and it demonstrated how much manpower the ruler had at his disposal, they wrote in a scientific journal.
The Oaxaca Valley near the southern tip of Mexico is a treasure trove for clues about the ancient Mayan civilization that once ruled over central America and has lured in archaeologists for several decades.
Redmond and Spencer’s team has been working at the El Palenque site since 1993, but believe this new find is one of the oldest pieces of architecture.
Why did the Mayan’s sacrifice humans?
During the pre-Columbian era, human sacrifice in Maya culture was a popular offering to the gods.
Blood was viewed as nourishment and the sacrifice of a living creature would keep them happy, it was believed.
The sacrifice of a human life was the ultimate offering and the most important Maya rituals culminated in human sacrifice.
Generally only high status prisoners of war were sacrificed, with lower status captives being used for labour.
Human sacrifice among the Maya is evident right up to the final stages of the Spanish conquest in the 17th century.
The most common method was decapitation and heart extraction.
They also shot victims with arrows, hurled them into sinkholes and entombed them alive.