Archaeologists have unearthed a large ancient palace in Mexico likely used by Mayan elite more than a 1000 years ago.

The palace was found in Kuluba, a Mayan city near today’s Cancun in eastern Mexico, said anthropology experts working for Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) in a statement.

Experts from the institute say the palace, which was six meters high and 55 meters long — over half the length of a football pitch —was probably inhabited for two long periods between 600-1050 AD.

A basement, stairways and pilasters, which are ornamental pillars, were made out by archaeologists working at the site.

A female archeologist scrapes the wall of the ancient temple

The archeological site will eventually be opened to visitors

At its peak between 250 and 900 AD, the Mayan civilization ruled large parts of what is now southern Mexico, Guatemala,Belize and Honduras. Within this civilization, Kuluba had important ties to the other Maya cities of  Ek’ Balam and Chichen Itza, which had an extensive trade network and controlled a large amount of territory.

Kuluba now forms the Kuluba archaeological zone, which is an important pre-Hispanic site in Mexico’s Yucatan state.

Discovery is ‘just the beginning’

“This work is the beginning, we’ve barely begun uncovering one of the most voluminous structures on the site,” archaeologist Alfredo Barrera said in a video shared by INAH.

Along with the palace, Mexican experts are exploring four other structures in the area known as “Group C” in Kuluba’s central square, including an altar, remains of two residential buildings and a round structure believed to be an oven.

The surrounding jungle is also being reforested to help protect the unique archaeological site from the weather.

The jungle site will be open to visitors “in the medium term” added the INAH institute.

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