Economy, sharing strategies and community structure in the early Neolithic village of Chahai, Northeast China

Dongdong Tu, Gideon Shelach-Lavi*, Ying Tung Fung

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The transition to agriculture and sedentary life are two processes that have shaped the history of humankind and catalyzed not only subsistence strategies and dietary habits, but also meaningful transformations of social relations and cultural formations. However, while questions about where and when the earliest domesticated plants and animals emerged have received much attention, anthropologically-oriented research on early sedentary communities is much less developed. In this paper we analyze the abundant archaeological data excavated at one early Neolithic site – the Chahai site – in Northeast China. The rich data published in the Chahai site report enables us to address such issues as economic adaptation, internal community organization, the economic activities and sharing strategies of household members, and mechanisms of community integration. This analysis suggests that during the formative phases of sedentism and cultivation, households in Northeast China were relatively independent production and consumption units. Differences in the activities conducted at the household level suggest incipient processes of specialization, but no evidence of socio-economic stratification or centralized leadership was identified. At the community level, non-economic activity, such as group rituals and communal feasting, suggests the development of collective leadership that organized small-scale public construction and rituals serving as integrative mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101420
JournalJournal of Anthropological Archaeology
StatePublished - Sep 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding for this research was provided by the Israel Science Foundation (Grant no. 728/17 awarded to Gideon Shelach-Lavi).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier Inc.


  • Chahai
  • Collective action
  • Early sedentary community
  • Economic adaptation
  • Household independence
  • Neolithic
  • Northeast China
  • Ritual activity
  • Social integration


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