The face of Pacal the Great: Archaeologists unearth rare 7th century mask showing Mayan ruler in his old age

a close up of food: Archaeologists have discovered an ancient stucco mask thought to depict the face of the Mayan ruler ‘Pacal the Great.’ The remarkable 7th century artifact is unlike most such treasures as it represents the king in his old age, with visible wrinkle lines

© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Archaeologists have discovered an ancient stucco mask thought to depict the face of the Mayan ruler ‘Pacal the Great.’ The remarkable 7th century artifact is unlike most such treasures as it represents the king

The face of Pacal the Great: Archaeologists unearth rare 7th century mask showing Mayan ruler in his old age

Archaeologists have discovered an ancient stucco mask thought to depict the face of the Mayan ruler ‘Pacal the Great.’

The remarkable 7th century artifact is unlike most such treasures as it represents the king in his old age, with visible wrinkle lines.

Pacal ruled from the time he was just 12 years old, until his death at the age of 80.

Researchers unearthed the mask during excavations at the Palenque archaeological site in the Mexican jungle.

a close up of a stone wall: If it is, in fact, Pacal, the experts say it would be the first of its kind. The mask includes wrinkle lines around the mouth and cheeks, which would make it ‘the first representation we have of an old Pacal,’ Arnoldo González Cruz from INAH

© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited If it is, in fact, Pacal, the experts say it would be the first of its kind. The mask includes wrinkle lines around the mouth and cheeks, which would make it ‘the first representation we have of an old Pacal,’ Arnoldo González Cruz from INAH

The 20-centimeter (7.8 inch) stucco mask was found by a team with the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) during an investigation of the temple’s ancient drainage system.

Palenque sits in the southern state of Chiapas, on the border of Guatemala.

According to Institute Director Diego Prieto, the mask appears to show the face of K'inich Janaab' Pakal – also known as Pacal the Great.

If it is, in fact, , the experts say it would be the first of its kind.

The mask includes wrinkle lines around the mouth and cheeks, which would make it ‘the first representation we have of an old ,’ Arnoldo González Cruz from INAH said, according to Mexico News Daily.

a piece of cake on a table: According to Institute Director Diego Prieto, the mask appears to show the face of K'inich Janaab' Pakal – also known as Pacal the Great

© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited According to Institute Director Diego Prieto, the mask appears to show the face of K'inich Janaab' Pakal – also known as Pacal the Great

‘Palenque continues to astonish us with everything it has to offer archaeological, anthropological, and historical research,’ Prieto said.

ruled from 615 AD until 683 AD.

Alongside the mask, the researchers found ceramic figures, decorated bones, and the remains of several animals, including lizards, crabs, and tortoises.

The experts say these were likely offerings made for the completion of the building’s reconstruction.

Palenque next to a tree: ‘Palenque (shown) continues to astonish us with everything it has to offer archaeological, anthropological, and historical research,’ Prieto said

a close up of a rock wall

an old stone building: The 20-centimeter (7.8 inch) stucco mask was found by a team with the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) during an investigation of the temple’s ancient drainage system.

The 20-centimeter (7.8 inch) stucco mask was found by a team with the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) during an investigation of the temple’s ancient drainage system.

WHO WAS ' THE '? 

Known as Pakal the great, K'inich Janaab Pakal I was the ruler of the Maya of Palenque over 68 years until he died in 683AD.

He is thought to have ascended to the throne at the age of 12 years old and during his rule managed to expand Palenque’s power in the western Maya states.

Buildings erected under his rule are considered the civilisation’s finest architecture.

The Temple of Inscriptions was only rediscovered by archaeologists around 200 years ago and was long suspected as a funerary monument to Pakal.

However, his tomb was only discovered in the 1950s. Inside was a ornately decorated sarcophagus which depicts Pakal lying on top of the ‘earth monster’.

Inside, archaeologists found his skeleton still intact. His death mask was made entirely of jade with eyes made from mother of pearl and obsidian.

Five skeletons were found at the entrance of the crypt, though to be sacrificial victims intended to follow Pakal to the underworld.

a close up of a map: Researchers unearthed the mask during excavations at the Palenque archaeological site in the Mexican jungle

Research at the site is aided by the US Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation, which provided roughly $500,000 to the effort.

In recent years there have been numerous discoveries that could help to shape our understanding of the Mayan civilization.

Researchers recently found evidence that the society’s collapse was brought on by a long period of drought.

A team from the universities of Cambridge and Florida analyzed water samples from Mexico's Lake Chichancanab, where the Maya were based.

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