Abstract : The function of handaxes, frequent during the recent Middle Palaeolithic, has been rarely explored by use-wear studies, the results of which do not allow us to know their exact role as tools and cores.
We have studied some handaxes of Mousterian of Acheulian Tradition and their manufacture by-products: the interpretation of their use, revealed by use-wear analysis, is integrated into a technological, morphological and techno-functional approach. Initially, a large experimental referential of use-wear traces on handaxes was carried out: we have, thereafter, proposed some specific criteria to determine the use of handaxes thanks to macroscopic use-wear (edge damage, edge rounding).
MTA handaxes are not multifunctional: firstly, these tools, which often have two convergent lateral edges and a distal point, were widely used for butchering activities, possibly during displacements. Fewer handaxes, characterized by a distal and transversal edge, were used in a different way, probably to chop wood. Handaxes were conserved and resharpened over a long time and were used until the functional features of the working edges changed. Then, the denaturated handaxes were sometimes re-used as hammers or to scrape mineral materials.
Manufacture flakes, retouched or not in scrapers, sometimes show wear-traces: they were almost solely used to cut soft animal tissues during butchery. The used flakes are very different in size, and they come from various manufacturing stages : so these flakes have probably not been produced intentionally but rather opportunistically picked up in knapping accumulations.