AIA News Blog

May 1, 2020

Results for Week 2: Build Your Own Monument—Chichén Itzá

Erin Patterson (New Orleans, Louisiana) won the popular vote in the adult category for Chichen Itza.

Last week’s Stonehenge challenge got the ball rolling for the Build Your Own Monument contest. This week 60 competitors submitted their creative and original replicas of the Temple of Kukulkan, or El Castillo, from the Maya site of Chichén Itzá. Chichen Itza is a remarkable Maya site that has been classified as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. The Temple of Kukulkan is the most famous building at the site. During the spring and fall equinoxes, the afternoon sun casts a shadow across the temple that looks like a snake slithering down the building’s northern staircase.

This week’s entrants used a variety of construction materials including cake, cardboard, cereal, toilet paper, and toothpicks. Our celebrity judge for BYOM—Week 2 was Jessica MacLellan, Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Pittsburgh. Jessica who conducts research at the Maya site of Ceibal, in Guatemala appears to have been fascinated and charmed by this week’s entries. 

Judge’s Picks

Jessica MacLellan’s top picks were:


RC, Age 16
Massachusetts, USA
Materials: Vanilla and Lemon cake; Almond frosting; Brown and Black food coloring; Brown sugar

MacLellan said, “I was impressed by the detail R.C. managed to capture using such a difficult medium – cake and frosting. You can clearly see the nine levels of the pyramid and the two columns in the doorway of the superstructure. Looks delicious, too!”


Lamb Family
Pickford, Michigan, USA
Materials used: Rice Krispie treats and Fruit Roll-Ups

In selecting the family category winner, our judge was impressed by the category’s lone edible submission: “The Lamb family managed to pull off a pyramid made of Rice Krispie treats – a tricky material! I love the use of red Fruit Roll-Ups for the stairways because it suggests the blood that would have been sacrificed at the temple, potentially flowing down the steps.”


Ben Boro
Portland, Oregon, USA
Materials used: 156 Empty beer cans: 12 oz, 16 oz, and 19.2 oz; 6 Pieces of packing tape

MacLellan shared her thoughts on her top pick: “Ben’s beer can pyramid has a simple elegance that seems difficult to pull off, particularly in the stairways. The use of empty containers makes me wonder how this period of quarantine will be observed in the archaeological record of the future.”

Popular Vote

In the popular vote, over 2,000 votes were cast over a four day voting period and the following entries came out on top:


Nicholas, Age 12
Reno, Nevada, USA
Materials used: 292.5 Bricks


Callaghan Family
Oviedo, Florida, USA
Materials used: Play Doh


Erin Patterson
New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Materials used: cardboard, hot glue, beans

Congratulations to all who took part in this week’s challenge, we’re looking forward to seeing many creative takes on the Colosseum (deadline today) and the Pyramids of Giza (deadline May 8) in the next two weeks. Voting for the Colosseum submissions will commence on Monday. Build Your Own Monument today and submit your entry and we will see your creation at

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