Anthropology, 15th edition

Published by Pearson (February 19, 2018) © 2019

  • Carol R. Ember Human Relations Area Files
  • Melvin R. Ember Human Relations Area Files
  • Peter N. Peregrine Lawrence University and the Sante Fe Institute


per month

  • Anytime, anywhere learning with the Pearson+ app
  • Easy-to-use search, navigation and notebook
  • Simpler studying with flashcards

  • Hardcover, paperback or looseleaf edition
  • Affordable rental option for select titles
  • Free shipping on looseleafs and traditional textbooks



  • Inspire engagement through active learning
  • Provide an immersive reading experience
  • Assess student progress with performance insights

For courses in General Anthropology (4 Fields).

A comparative exploration of human cultures across space and time

Anthropology takes a holistic approach to the biological, social and cultural aspects of human life. Authors Carol Ember, Melvin Ember and Peter Peregrine explain not only what humans are and were like, but also how they got to be that way, in all their variety. The authors provide comparative, cross-cultural insights based on an evidence-based approach.

The 15th Edition offers a streamlined narrative that makes it easier for instructors to cover all aspects of the discipline in a single semester. The inclusion of updated research ensures an up-to-date learning experience.

Hallmark features of this title

  • The authors' straightforward, jargon-free writing style makes learning about anthropology more enjoyable.
  • Learning objectives at the beginning of each chapter and tied to each major heading indicate what students should know after reading the material.
  • End-of-chapter summaries, keyed to the learning objectives, help students review major concepts and findings.
  • Think on It critical assessment questions at the end of each chapter prompt students to reflect about concepts presented in the chapter and move beyond rote answers.
  • Applied Anthropology boxes examine the range of issues to which anthropological knowledge can be usefully applied.
  • Current Research boxes explore anthropological research and highlight how it can be used to help others.

New and updated features of this title

  • UPDATED: A streamlined narrative makes it easier for instructors to cover all aspects of anthropology in a single semester. The authors eliminated the dedicated chapter covering global problems in the previous edition, and integrated key global problems coverage throughout the remaining content. In addition, the authors removed the part structure to grant instructors more flexibility in developing their syllabi.
  • NEW: High-quality photographs, obtained in collaboration with a professional photographer and the Lawrence University Department of Anthropology, accurately illustrate the text discussion. New images depict key aspects of dentition in Chapter 5 and skulls of various early hominins in Chapter 6, among other topics.
  • UPDATED: The inclusion of current research citations ensures that students receive the latest information. Highlights include a discussion of agriculture as a form of niche construction in Chapter 10 and coverage of whether language promotes sexist thinking in Chapter 14.
  • UPDATED: Global Issues boxes explore worldwide social problems.
  • UPDATED: Perspectives on Diversity boxes shed light on issues pertaining to gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation, both in anthropology and everyday life.

1. What Is Anthropology
2. Research Methods in Anthropology
3. Genetics and Evolution
4. Human Variation and Adaptation
5. Primates: Past and Present
6. The First Hominins
7. The Origins of Culture and the Emergence of Homo
8. The Emergence of Homo sapiens
9. The Upper Paleolithic World
10. Origins of Food Production and Settled Life
11. Origins of Cities and States
12. Culture and Culture Change
13. Culture and the Individual
14. Communication and Language
15. Getting Food
16. Economic Systems
17. Social Stratification: Class, Ethnicity, and Racism
18. Sex and Gender
19. Marriage and the Family
20. Marital Residence and Kinship
21. Associations and Interest Groups
22. Political Life: Social Order and Disorder
23. Religion and Magic
24. The Arts
25. Health and Illness
26. Practicing and Applying Anthropology

About our authors

Carol R. Ember started at Antioch College as a chemistry major. She began taking social science courses because some were required, but she soon found herself intrigued. There were lots of questions without answers, and she became excited about the possibility of a research career in social science. She spent a year in graduate school at Cornell studying sociology before continuing on to Harvard, where she studied anthropology, primarily with John and Beatrice Whiting. For her PhD dissertation, she worked among the Luo of Kenya and studied the possible effects of task assignment on the social behavior of children. For most of her career, she has conducted cross-cultural research on topics such as variation in marriage, family, descent groups, and war and peace, mainly in collaboration with Melvin Ember, whom she married in 1970. All of these cross-cultural studies tested theories on data for worldwide samples of societies. Her recent research funded by the National Science Foundation focuses on possible effects of climate-related hazards on cultural institutions and practices.

From 1970 to 1996, she taught at Hunter College of the City University of New York. She has served as president of the Society of Cross-Cultural Research and was one of the directors of the Summer Institutes in Comparative Anthropological Research, which were funded by the National Science Foundation. She has recently served as President of the Society for Anthropological Sciences. Since 1996, she has been at the Human Relations Area Files, Inc., a nonprofit research agency at Yale University, first serving as Executive Director and since 2010 as President of that organization.

Melvin Ember majored in anthropology at Columbia College and went to Yale University for his PhD. His mentor at Yale was George Peter Murdock, an anthropologist who was instrumental in promoting cross-cultural research and building a full-text database on the cultures of the world to facilitate cross-cultural hypothesis testing. This database came to be known as the Human Relations Area Files (HRAF) because it was originally sponsored by the Institute of Human Relations at Yale. Growing in annual installments and now distributed in electronic format, the HRAF database currently covers more than 385 cultures, past and present, all over the world.

Melvin Ember did fieldwork for his dissertation in American Samoa, where he conducted a comparison of 3 villages to study the effects of commercialization on political life. In addition, he did research on descent groups and how they changed with the increase of buying and selling. His cross-cultural studies focused originally on variation in marital residence and descent groups. He has also done cross-cultural research on the relationship between economic and political development, the origin and extension of the incest taboo, the causes of polygyny, and how archaeological correlates of social customs can help us draw inferences about the past.

After 4 years of research at the National Institute of Mental Health, he taught at Antioch College and then Hunter College of the City University of New York. He served as president of the Society for Cross-Cultural Research. From 1987 until his death in September 2009, he was president of the Human Relations Area Files, Inc., a nonprofit research agency at Yale University.

Peter N. Peregrine came to anthropology after completing an undergraduate degree in English. He found anthropology's social scientific approach to understanding humans more appealing than the humanistic approach he had learned as an English major. He undertook an ethnohistorical study of the relationship between Jesuit missionaries and Native American peoples for his master's degree and realized that he needed to study archaeology to understand the cultural interactions experienced by Native Americans before their contact with the Jesuits.

While working on his PhD at Purdue University, he did research on the prehistoric Mississippian cultures of the eastern United States. He found that interactions between groups were common and had been shaping Native American cultures for centuries. Native Americans approached contact with the Jesuits simply as another in a long string of intercultural exchanges. He also found that relatively little research had been done on Native American interactions and decided that comparative research was a good place to begin examining the topic. In 1990, he participated in the Summer Institute in Comparative Anthropological Research, where he met Carol R. Ember and Melvin Ember.

He is professor of anthropology at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, and external professor at the Santa Fe Institute in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He also serves as research associate for the Human Relations Area Files. He continues to do archaeological research and to teach anthropology and archaeology to undergraduate students.

Need help? Get in touch


Inspire engagement through active learning. Revel® integrates interactives and assessments into a compelling digital narrative. By applying concepts as they read, students immerse themselves in learning, deepening their understanding. This mobile, user-friendly platform empowers students to learn and study on the go, anytime, anywhere, on any device.


All in one place. Pearson+ offers instant access to eTextbooks, videos and study tools in one intuitive interface. Students choose how they learn best with enhanced search, audio and flashcards. The Pearson+ app lets them read where life takes them, no wi-fi needed. Students can access Pearson+ through a subscription or their MyLab or Mastering course.

Privacy and cookies
By watching, you agree Pearson can share your viewership data for marketing and analytics for one year, revocable by deleting your cookies.

Help students learn, wherever life takes them

Your students deserve more than just a digital textbook. Revel® combines content, media, and assessment to create an engaging, immersive experience that lets them learn on the go — anytime, anywhere, on any device.