DNA tests conducted on a 5,000-year-old cemetery in northwest China's Shaanxi Province have shown that the community was male dominated.
Few objects were found in the graves, which were all small and each used for one person, according to experts. It is is believed the graves were those of common people.
DNA tests indicate that the mitochondria of female remains were much more diverse than for males, meaning it possible that males in the community held primary power, and the females were migrants from other communities, according to Yang Liping, who led the project.
Archaeologists also found that human bones in many graves had been moved deliberately from their original places, which may have been an ancient funeral custom.
"Graves in the cemetery were distributed regularly, showing the cemetery was well-organized, and people living in the era had strong competence in social management," Yang said.
The cemetery, covering around 90,000 square meters, is located near the Yangguanzhai ruins in Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi, which belonged to a late Neolithic culture known as the Yangshao, which originated in the middle reaches of the Yellow River, China's second longest waterway.
An estimated 2,000 graves were in the cemetery, and excavation of the site began in 2015.
Previous excavation has found suspected traces of textiles around human bones, painted pottery, bone beads, bone hair clasps, stone or pottery earrings, pigments and tortoise shells.