Aswan lies at the First Cataract close to the border with modern Sudan. In Roman times the city was called Syene, what possibly derived from the Egyptian term swnw, the word for ‘trading place’ pointing to the economic impact of the town from its early history on.
However, Aswan was not only a major site for the transhipment of commodities and slaves, but also for the production of high quality goods such as the famous Aswan pottery or its pink granite.
The city’s location at the southernmost border of the Byzantine Empire bestow Syene moreover a decisive defensive role of which military units mentioned in the papyri of the Patermouthis archive (V-VII) give plenty of evidence.
Aswan is being excavated by a Swiss-Egyptian Mission since 2000 which yielded a high number of textual sources. Their editions as well as new publications in archaeology can be found under the links above.