Aswan

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Aswan, formerly spelled Assuan, (Arabic: أسوان‎, Aswān; Ancient Egyptian: Swenet, "Trade"; Coptic: ⲥⲟⲩⲁⲛ, Swān; Ancient Greek: Συήνη, Syene) is a city in the south of Egypt, the capital of the Aswan Governorate.

It stands on the east bank of the Nile at the first cataract and is a busy market and tourist center. The modern city has expanded and includes the formerly separate community on the island of Elephantine.

Aswan is one of the driest inhabited places in the world; as of early 2001, the last rain there was seven years earlier. As of 6 April 2010, the last rainfall was a thunderstorm on May 13, 2006. In Nubian settlements, they generally do not bother to roof all of the rooms in their houses.

Contents

History

Aswan is the ancient city of Swenet, which in antiquity was the frontier town of Ancient Egypt to the south. Swenet is supposed to have derived its name from an Egyptian goddess with the same name. This goddess later was identified as Eileithyia by the Greeks and Lucina by the Romans during their occupation of Ancient Egypt because of the similar association of their goddesses with childbirth, and of which the import is "the opener". The ancient name of the city also is said to be derived from the Egyptian symbol for trade.[1]

Because the Ancient Egyptians oriented toward the origin of the life-giving waters of the Nile in the south, Swenet was the first town in the country, and Egypt always was conceived to "open" or begin at Swenet.[citation needed] The city stood upon a peninsula on the right (east) bank of the Nile, immediately below (and north of) the first cataract of the flowing waters, which extend to it from Philae. Navigation to the delta was possible from this location without encountering a barrier.

The stone quarries of ancient Egypt located here were celebrated for their stone, and especially for the granitic rock called Syenite. They furnished the colossal statues, obelisks, and monolithal shrines that are found throughout Egypt, including the pyramids; and the traces of the quarrymen who wrought in these 3,000 years ago are still visible in the native rock. They lie on either bank of the Nile, and a road, four miles (6 km) in length, was cut beside them from Syene to Philae.

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