Assiut was the capital of the thirteenth province of Upper Egypt in Pharaonic Egypt. The name Assiut is derived from the ancient Egyptian word Sawit, "the protectorate".
The ancient Egyptian archeology dates back to the Old Kingdom and the First Intermediate Period. In Greco-Roman times the city was called Lykopolis, "the City of the Wolf" in reference to its principal deity "the jackal".
During the Christian period Assiut exported precious tapestries to the Byzantine and Roman churches. The city became famous in the Islamic period because it was the residence of the Upper Egyptian Deputy; it also had an independent judge. Ibn Doqmaq, in the ninth century Hijri, mentioned its mosques and schools.
Assiut was famous for its tapestry industry and in particular for its dyes, possibly because of its proximity to an oasis where it was easy to obtain the alum and indigo necessary for the dye. It was also famous for carpet weaving, sugar and the production of oil. Yaqout Al-Hamawi and Al-Qazweni both spoke of the opium of Assiut, which was extracted from black opium leaves and lettuce and was exported all over the world.