Aswan is the ancient city of Swenet, which was in antiquity the frontier town of Egypt to the south. Because the Egyptians oriented towards the south, Aswan was the first town in the country, and Egypt was always conceived to open or begin at Aswan. It stood upon a peninsula on the right (east) bank of the Nile, immediately below (north of) the first cataract, which extend to it from Philae. It is supposed to have derived its name from an Egyptian goddesses with the same name, the Ilithya of the Greeks, and of which the import is the opener.
The quarries of Aswan were celebrated for their stone, and especially for the granitic rock called Syenite. They furnished the colossal statues, obelisks, and monolithal shrines which are found throughout Egypt, including the pyramids; and the traces of the quarrymen who wrought in these 3000 years ago are still visible in the native rock. They lie on either bank of the Nile, and a road, 4 miles in length, was cut beside them from Syene to Philae. Aswan was equally important as a military station and as a place of traffic. Under every dynasty it was a garrison town; and here were levied toll and custom on all boats passing southward and northward. The city is mentioned by numerous ancient writers, including Herodotus (ii. 30), Strabo (ii. p. 133, xvii. p. 797, seq.), Stephanus of Byzantium (s. v.), Ptolemy (vii. 5. § 15, viii. 15. § 15), Pliny the Elder (ii. 73. s. 75, v. 10. s. 11, vi. 29. s. 34), De architectura (book viii. ch ii. § 6) and it appears on the Antonine Itinerary (p. 164).It is also mention in the Book of Isaiah from the Scriptures (ref. Isaiah 49:12).