Egypt travel guide




Assyut Travel Guide

Assyut History

The city of Assyut was a place of considerable importance in antiquity thanks to its situation in a large and fertile plain extending between the Libyan and the Arabian mountains a distance of some 12.5mi/20km at the end of the "road of the 40 days", an important caravan route which led to the oases in the Libyan Desert and on to the Darfur Oasis in what is now Sudan.

Politically, it achieved prominence only occasionally, as during the first Intermediate Period, when it played a considerable part in the conflicts between Thebes and Heracleopolis. The city of Assyut was the capital of the 13th nome of Upper Egypt, the Sycamore nome, and the principal center of the cult of the war god Wepwawet, who was represented as a desert wolf: hence the city's Greek name of Lycopolis, "town of the wolf".

Also the city of Assyut was the birthplace of Plotinus (A.D. 205-270),and also was the greatest of the Neo Platonic philosophers, whose system was influenced to some degree by the priestly doctrines of his native city. At the beginning of the fourth C. Christianity became dominant in the city, and pious believers moved into the caves of the necropolis to live a life of penitence.

Among them was John of Lycopolis, who gained the reputation of a prophet and a saint, while when the Emperor Theodosius sent an envoy to ask about the outcome of his conflict with his rival Eugenius he correctly foretold the Emperor's victory. However during the medieval period the city enjoyed considerable prosperity thanks to its extensive trading connections and to its slave market, the largest in Egypt. Soon after the murder of President Sadat in October 1981 there were bloody conflicts in Asyut between Muslim radicals and the police.

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