skip to content

Michael Tarkanian

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Department of Materials Science and Engineering
77 Massachusetts Avenue, Room 8-331
(617) 253-5946

Senior Lecturer
Research Affiliate

Michael Tarkanian is a Research Affiliate in CMRAE and a Senior Lecturer in MIT’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering (DMSE). His CMRAE research focuses on ancient Mesoamerican rubber, both the processing and use of this material. He is investigating the chemical and mechanical properties of the materials used by the Olmec and later Mesoamerican societies as they tailored the processing of rubber to specific uses, such as solid rubber balls for the Pan-Mesoamerican ritual ball game, soles for sandals, and elastic hafting materials for stone blades.

Michael Tarkanian is also the director of the DMSE Laboratory for Engineering Materials, and the Merton C. Flemings Materials Processing Laboratory. He works closely with CMRAE faculty, staff, and students who carry out research in these facilities.

Selected Publications

Dorothy Hosler, Sandra L. Burkett, and Michael J. Tarkanian. 1999 Prehistoric Polymers: Rubber Processing in Ancient Mesoamerica. Science 284: 1988-1991.

Michael J. Tarkanian and Dorothy Hosler. 2000 La Elaboración de Hule en Mesoamérica. Arqueología Mexicana 8(44): 54-57.

Michael J. Tarkanian and Dorothy Hosler. 2001 An Ancient Tradition Continued: Modern Rubber Processing in Mexico. In The Sport of Life and Death: The Mesoamerican Ballgame, E. Michael Whittington (Ed.), pp.116-121. Charlotte: The Mint Museum of Art, in conjunction with Thames & Hudson.