The city was called Syene or Seveneh in the Bible and is described as the southern limit of Egypt. It was a trade center, serving as the gateway to Sudan and Ethiopia, and was the place where the annual Nile flood was first sighted in Egypt. From the syenite quarries nearby came stone for the temples and statuary of the Pharaohs. On Elephantine island, in the Nile opposite Aswan, and Philae island (submerged by the Aswan High Dam complex), south of the city, are found ancient Egyptian and Roman ruins. Aga Khan III (1877–1957), leader of the Muslim Ismailis, is buried in Aswan.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.