Bones of at least 25 people who were sacrificed have been found at a Mayan ruin in southeastern Mexico. Under a temple pyramid at the Moral-Reforma archaeological site in Tabasco state, researchers discovered skulls, jaw fragments and other bone parts of mostly young men, the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) said yesterday.

Archaeologists assumed that the so-called Structure 18, where the find was made, was associated with death or with an underworld deity of the Mayan faith. According to project manager Francisco Cuevas, eight victims were beheaded. Other body parts were dismembered and scattered around.

The researchers found two separate burial sites, one on top of the other at different depths. According to the INAH, the older one dates from between 300 B.C. and 250 AD and contained the remains of twelve people. There were also found 567 objects such as necklaces and vessels as offerings.

The other burial site is said to date between 600 and 900 AD. At that time, the Maya site on the San Pedro Mártir River played an important role in the exchange of goods and cultures between the Maya peoples of Guatemalan Petén and those of the played on the Gulf of Mexico coast.