Turkey in June: It’s been 2,344 years since Alexander the Great invaded. The country then was Persia’s window on the Mediterranean, the western frontier of an empire that stretched eastward to India. Alexander conquered the whole vast realm, but he began by spending a year and a half in Anatolia. Turks reward him with a place in their pantheon. Alexander—“Iskender” in Turkish—is still a popular name.

If Alexander had a shrine in Turkey, it would lie in a room of the Istanbul Archaeological Museum. There, theatrically displayed under careful lighting, is the Alexander Sarcophagus, which was discovered in Lebanon in 1887. The shimmering rectangular block of marble was named for its stunning relief sculptures, not its occupant (the coffin belonged to an ally and not to Alexander himself). In those days, another empire stretched eastward (and westward) from Anatolia, the Ottoman Empire, and Lebanon was a...


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