The ancient world is mysterious in a way our own times never can be. There are so many things we don't know, so many gaps as yet unfilled by archaeological discovery, so many cultural elements so utterly foreign to our modernist and postmodernist sensibilities. As a result, we're fascinated by times darker than the proverbial Dark Ages, and more alien.
Our need to know isn't a trait inherited from the ancients, however, at least not the Near Eastern civilizations we usually refer to with that phrase. The Greek and Roman cultures were another story, but distinct enough from those around them they're typically dealt with separately. The Near East, while home to a number of ethnicities and nations, was fairly monolithic in attitudes, religion and culture.