Aswan is the ancient city of Swenett, which in antiquity was the frontier town of Ancient Egypt facing the south. Swenett is supposed to have derived its name from an Egyptian goddess with the same name.This goddess later was identified as Eileithyia by the Greeks and Lucina by the Romans during their occupation of Ancient Egypt because of the similar association of their goddesses with childbirth, and of which the import is "the opener". The ancient name of the city also is said to be derived from the Egyptian symbol for trade, or market.
The Nile is nearly 650 m (0.40 mi) wide above Aswan. From this frontier town to the northern extremity of Egypt, the river flows for more than 1,200 km (750 mi) without bar or cataract. The voyage from Aswan to Alexandria usually took 21 to 28 days in favourable weather.