Site of palace in ancient city of Shushan
Site of palace in ancient city of ShushanIsrael News. Photo: Livius

Iranians have turned a huge excavation site in the city of Shush, site of "Susa," the ancient city of Shushan -- center of the events in the Purim story --  into a garbage dump.

Culture heritage backers put a stop to construction of a hotel on the site, according to the Tehran News, which added that residents of the Shush municipality are now filling the huge, gaping 300-foot by 300-foot hole with rubbish.

Iranian archaeologists have estimated that Susa is one of the oldest known settlements in the world. The Book of Esther (known as the Megillah of Esther -ed.), which is recited on Purim names the city - then known as Shushan - as the capital of the huge empire ruled at the time by King Achashveros.

The site has been a frequent target of vandals, who last year smashed the column bases of an ancient palace located at Susa. A planned four-story high school adjacent to the palace was scrapped because of protests to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that it would spoil the view of the ancient building.

Vandals have stolen several artifacts and one archaeologist blamed the thefts on anti-Iranians, possible Arab settlers.

Iran is Persian, and although it is a Muslim country, it is culturally and politically not Arabic, and is not a member of the Arab League.