Ancient city of Egypt on the Ethiopian frontier in the Thebaid; situated on the eastern bank of the Nile, equidistant from Alexandria and Meroe. In the Bible it is called "Sweneh" (; Egyptian, "Sun"; Coptic, "Suan," whence it may be assumed that the Hebrew name was originally , the ה being a locative suffix). Syene is mentioned as a frontier city of Egypt (Ezek. xxix. 10, xxx. 6); but the combination "migdol Sweneh" (A. V. "tower of Syene") is due to a corruption of the text, as was seen by Jerome (ad loc.). The Septuagint accordingly has a place-name, "Magdolon"; so that the passage should read "from Magdolon [the northern frontier of Egypt] to Syene [the southern boundary]." While Jerome refers to a tower still standing there in his time, this was merely a Roman fort. Josephus also alludes to Syene as a frontier city ("B. J." iv. 10, § 5). Neubauer is wrong in asserting ("G. T." p. 419) that coins from Syene are mentioned in the Talmud (Ket. 67b). The entire district is rich in deposits of pink granite called syenite (Pliny, "Historia Naturalis," xxxvi. 8, § 13). The Syrians termed the place "Aswan," the name by which it is known to-day (Assouan). The modern city, however, lies northeast of the ancient Syene.
- Ritter, Erdkunde, i. 1, 694;
- Winer, B. R. s.v.;
- Boettger, Topographisch-Historisches Lexicon zu den Schriften des Flavius Josephus, p. 238,
- Sayce, The Ancient Empire of the East, 1883, p. 311;
- Baedeker, Egypt, 2d ed., 1903, p. 327.