The name of the city is derived from early Egyptian Zawty (Z3JW.TJ) (late Egyptian, Səyáwt) adopted into the Coptic as Syowt ⲥⲓⲟⲟⲩⲧ [sɪˈjowt], which means “Guardian” of the northern approach of Upper Egypt. In Graeco-Roman Egypt, it was called Lycopolis or Lykopolis (Greek: Λυκόπολις, “ἡ Λύκων πόλις“), (‘wolf city’) Lycon, or Lyco. Ancient Asyut was the capital of the Thirteenth Nome of Upper Egypt (Lycopolites Nome) around 3100 BC. It was located on the western bank of the Nile. The two most prominent gods of ancient Egyptian Asyut were Anubis and Wepwawet, both funerary deities. During the First Intermediate Period, the rulers of “Zawty” (Khety I, Tefibi, and Khety II) were supporters of the Herakleopolitan kings, of whose domain the Nome formed the southern limits. The conflict between this Nome and the southern Nomes under the rule of the Eleventh Dynasty ended with the victory of Thebes and the decline of Asyut’s importance.

Ancient Asyut

Skull of Khety from Asyut, 1950 BCE.
Lycopolis has no remarkable ruins, but in the excavated chambers of the adjacent rocks mummies of wolves have been found, confirming the origin of its name, as well as a tradition preserved by Diodorus Siculus,[8] to the effect that an Ethiopian army, invading Egypt, was repelled beyond the city of Elephantine by packs of wolves. Osiris was worshipped under the symbol of a wolf at Lycopolis. According to a myth, he had come “from the shades” as a wolf to aid Isis and Horus in their combat with Typhon.[9] Other ancient Egyptian monuments discovered in Asyut include; the Asyut necropolis (west of the modern city), tombs which date to dynasties Nine, Ten and Twelve, and the Ramessid tombs of Siese and Amenhotep.

Modern Asyut Today, the city of Asyut has almost 400,000 inhabitants.[12] It is the Egyptian city with one of the highest Coptic Christian concentration of approximately 50%. [13] It is also home to the Assiut University, one of the largest universities in Egypt, to the Assiut Barrage, and to the Lillian Trasher Orphanage. The city is one of the only cities in the world that still makes silver appliqué-work shawls and is home to a large textile industry. The city also produces fine pottery, inlaid woodwork, and rugs. Asyut is the terminus of the Ras Shukheir-Asyut oil pipeline, the terminus of the Cairo-Asyut gas pipeline and the beginning of the proposed Asyut-Qena gas pipeline, the last two being part of the Nile Valley Gas Company Pipeline Project.] Asyut is next to the Aysut Dam across the Nile river in the neighboring port of Al-Hamra. The dam was built in 1902 and a hydroelectric plant was added in the 1980s.

Climate its climate as hot desert (BWh). It is the driest city of Egypt.[16] Luxor, Minya, Qena and Asyut have the widest difference of temperatures between days and nights of any city in Egypt, with almost 16 °C (29 °F) difference. The city of Asyut is sandwiched between two mountain ranges of about 600m height. There is also a lowering in elevation in mid Egypt, from the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.