Asiut is known for its monuments dating to the Old Kingdom and the First Intermediate Period. It was the capital of the fifteenth nome in Upper Egypt.
In the Egyptian records, it was called Sawet, which means "The Protected." In the Greco-Roman period it was named Liconopolis, meaning "The City of the Fox." This name refers to the jackal, the form of its main god Wepwawet, or the Opener of the Ways.