His most commonly used name was the Olum Krali (translated literally to mean “the king of death”) and he mysteriously appeared on various battlefields in Persia, Egypt, Babylon and Greater Mesopotamia from about 2000 B.C. to 146 B.C. , the last sighting of him being during the final Roman war in Carthage where he was said to have cut off five dozen soldiers’ heads*.
According to ancient sources, the Olum Krali would come out of nowhere just as a battle reached its peak of violence, at which point he’d begin killing everyone around him indiscriminately. He fought for no one side, and he killed mercilessly until the battle was done, then he’d disappear as mysteriously as he’d arrived. Some say he was a ghost, or a devil, or a god, feeding on the chaos and battle lust of the moment. Some said he was a singular, great warrior wreaking vengeance against all armies. Others think he was an army of men all dressed the same sent into the battle one at a time to create chaos.**
Reports range widely in physical descriptions of the Olum Krali, but the major themes describe him as a larger than average man dressed in a simple tunic (no armor), often with his feet and hands covered in leather strips, and a thick turban on his head. A metal mask forged in the features of a tormented man covered his face at all times. He said nothing, not even when cut or injured. There are no reports of him ever dying, no matter how many injuries he sustained.
Finally, and perhaps most mysteriously of all, he stopped appearing altogether after the Punic wars. Had he completed whatever mysterious task he’d set out to finish? Had he, at long last, satisfied his lust for battle? Had he died? Either way, the Olum Krali disappeared from history, never to be seen again.***
*Polybius: Histories, Book IVVIV
**Note that this is a relatively new concept, first put forward by British Near East scholar, J. P. Aldrich in 1745.
***Some scholars believe the Europeans tried to perpetuate his myth through the concept of beserkers as a means to scare the Romans away during battle, though this is highly unlikely.