Names and etymology
The name of the city is derived from
early Egyptian Zawty (Z3JW.TJ) (late Egyptian, Səyáwt) adopted into the
Coptic as Syowt ⲥⲓⲟⲟⲩⲧ, which means "Guardian" of the northern approach of
Egypt, it was called Lycopolis or Lykopolis (
Greek: Λυκόπολις, "ἡ Λύκων πόλις"),
 ('wolf city') Lycon,
 or Lyco.
Statue of the chief royal scribe
of Asyut and his wife Renenutet, 1290–1270 BCE early Dynasty 19.
Ancient Asyut was the capital of the Thirteenth
Upper Egypt (Lycopolites Nome) around 3100 BC. It was located on the western bank of the
Nile. The two most prominent
Ancient Egyptian Asyut were
Wepwawet, both funerary deities.
First Intermediate Period, the rulers of "Zawty" (
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.
Skull of Khety from Asyut, 1950 BCE.
Lycopolis has no remarkable ruins, but in the excavated chambers of the adjacent rocks
wolves have been found, confirming the origin of its name, as well as a tradition preserved by
 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
Horus in their combat with
Ancient Egyptian monuments discovered in Asyut include; the Asyut
necropolis (west of the modern city), tombs which date to dynasties
Twelve, and the
Ramessid tombs of
Graeco-Roman times, there was a distinct dialect of
Coptic spoken in Asyut, known as "
Lycopolitan", after the Greek name for the city. Lesser-used names for this dialect are "Sub-Akhmimic" and "Assiutic".
Byzantine Treasure was discovered near the city in the early twentieth century and is now dispersed amongst a number of museums in the West. The
hoard is composed of some of the most elaborate jewellery to survive from late
Asyut was the end of 40 Day Road that connected the city to
Darfur through the Selima and
Kharga Oases. The history of the road, known by local herders as Darb al-Arba'in, goes back over 700 years. It was used as a pathway for great caravans of up to 12,000 camels at its peak in the 14th century.