Peplos for Athena Parthenos

John Mansfield in a 1985 Ph.D. dissertation from the University of California at Berkeley has suggested that there were two peploi given to Athena: 1) a life-size one made every year in the traditional way by the women weavers (ergastinai) for the statue of Athena Polias and 2) a colossal peplos made once every four years by professional (male) weavers as a gift to Athena Parthenos.  This colossal peplos was carried in the procession on the mast of a ship cart until it reached the bottom of the Acropolis.  This huge garment  would have required a considerable number of men to remove it from the mast of the ship-cart and carry it up to the Parthenon.  Below is a drawing of the ship-cart parked next to the Acropolis after the peplos has been removed from the mast.

From Connolly & Dodge, The Ancient City

This peplos was in all probability not placed the colossal statue of Athena in the Parthenon.  It has been suggested that it was hung in the temple.   First, it would have been extremely difficult, if not impossible, to put the peplos on such 39 ft. high statue.  Also, the golden peplos that had been fitted by the sculptor to the statue was one of its important features and it would have been strange to cover it up with a wool garment.

Colossal Statue of Athena Parthenos

The first mention of the colossal peplos in a literary source is in a play (Macedonians) by the comic poet Strattis (late 5th/early 4th century) .  He has one of his characters say:

Countless men using a crank draw this peplos up with ropes to the top like the mast of a sail.
The fact that no earlier extant source mentions the huge peplos (or the shipcart) could explain  why there is no depiction of this peplos or the shipcart on the frieze of the Parthenon, which was completed in 432 BC.