Asyut, 375km south of Cairo, has the highest concentration of Coptic Christians today but ancient Asyut was settled during Pharaonic times. Surrounded by rich agricultural land and sitting at the end of one of Africa’s great caravan routes, from sub-Saharan Africa and Sudan to Asyut via Al-Kharga Oasis, it has always been important commercially. For centuries one of the main commodities traded here was slaves. Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman travelled through Asyut on their epic Long Way Down journey.
During the First Intermediate Period, the rulers of "Zawty"; Khety I, Itefibi, and 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. In Graeco-Roman times, there was a distinct dialect of Coptic spoken in Asyut, known as "Lycopolitan", after the Greek name for the city. The shield of a king named Recamai, who reigned in Upper Egypt has been discovered in Asyut.
Asyut is between mountain ranges on the east and west and has hot summers and cold winters.
As the site of the ancient Egyptian city of Thebes, 4000-year old Luxor has frequently been characterised as the "world's ...