During the Ptolemaic period of Egypt its ancient Egyptian name was sḫ.t-ỉm3w, "Field of Trees".Greek settlers at Cyrene made contact with the oasis around the same time (7th century BC), and the oracle temple of Amun (Greek: Zeus Ammon), who, Herodotus was told, took the image here of a ram.The home-like residence is licensed to serve 8 youth per night for up to 21 days.During their stay, the youth find supporting adults, warm meals, and opportunities for recreation and skill building.The Egyptian historian Al-Maqrizi travelled to Siwa in the 15th century and described how the language spoken there 'is similar to the language of the Zenata'.
The ancient fortress of Siwa, known as the Shali Ghadi ("Shali" being the name of the town, and "Ghadi" meaning remote), was built on natural rock (an inselberg) and made of kershif (salt and mud-brick) it was abandoned for similar unreinforced construction housing on the plain surrounding it, and in some cases those in turn have been replaced by more modern cinder block and sheet metal roof buildings.
In the Spring of 1893, German explorer and photographer, Hermann Burchardt, took photographs of the architecture of the town of Siwa, now stored at the Ethnological Museum of Berlin.
The Siwans are a Berber people, so demographically and culturally they were more closely related to nearby Libya, which has a large Berber population, than to Egypt, which has a negligible Berber population.
Herodotus knew of a "fountain of the Sun" that ran coldest in the noontide heat.
During his campaign to conquer the Persian Empire, Alexander the Great reached the oasis, supposedly by following birds across the desert.