Scientists have found that a 1,000-year-old stone structure in Mexico depicts a mythical fish monster which, according to ancient Mesoamericans, led to the creation of the Earth.
The structure called "Tetzacualco" is located on the foothills of a volcano in the middle of a pond, and has been known to explorers since the 16th century.
Experts have put forth a variety of ideas as to what the structure was used for and when it was built.
Excavations, led by Iris del Rocio Hernandez Bautista, an archaeologist with National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) in Mexico, aim to be the most intensive investigation of the Tetzacualco ever conducted.
Researchers discovered pottery and stone artifacts that date back over 1,000 years at the site.
They also found evidence that ancient Mesoamericans tried to irrigate the pond, making sure it never ran out of water, even when there was little rain.
Researchers hypothesise that the structure is an attempt to represent a mythical creature known as Cipactli, a fish monster from which the gods created the Earth, according to some ancient Mesoamerican legends.
Reports suggest that the Tetzacualco was constructed by the Aztecs - a Mesoamerican culture that flourished between 1300 and 1500.
However, the recovered artifacts indicate that the structure was created at least three centuries before the Aztecs by an even earlier Mesoamerican culture whose identity is not yet clear, the 'Live Science' reported.
It is not clear how long the Tetzacualco was used or what kind of ceremonies took place there.
During the 16th century, Juan Bautista Pomar, a writer in Mexico, claimed that the Tetzacualco was in use up until that century and that children were sometimes sacrificed there.
Bautista Pomar claimed that the Tetzacualco had a statue that depicted Tlaloc, a Mesoamerican god of rain, that "has its face towards the east".
Those in charge of the Tetzacualco "made sacrifices of innocent children to him once a year," he wrote.
However, no humans remains have been found at the Tetzacualco, although excavations are in progress.
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