A Roman bowl has become the most expensive piece of ancient glass ever sold at auction.
The piece sold for £2,646,650 at Bonhams in London on Wednesday. It was bought by a telephone bidder.
The Constable-Maxwell cage-cup dates from the third century and is decorated with a delicate lattice design. It has survived intact for 17 centuries.
It is the third time the item has set the record for the highest price paid
for a piece of ancient glass.
Joanna van der Lande, head of antiquities at Bonhams, said it was likely the glass bowl, thought to have been a grave object, would have originated in the eastern Mediterranean.
Ms van der Lande added: "It's exceptionally fragile and cut from a single
block of glass.
"It's something that would have been highly important in its day.
"It would have been clear, but has become iridescent due to a chemical
reaction between the earth and the glass.
"Its probable use was as an oil lamp suspended by a metal collar around the
rim and light would have come through the lattice work.
"It's really a very highly prized piece."
In 1979, Andrew Constable-Maxwell, a British collector, sold it for a then-record price of £520,000.
The cage-cup went on to be sold in 1986 for £2.1m when it was auctioned by the British Rail Pension Fund.
It was one of 25 glass objects and artefacts sold at Bonhams' London saleroom, fetching a total of £6m for the anonymous seller.
Other sale items included an Egyptian basalt block statue of a general from
the period 1,664 - 610BC, which sold for £666,650, and an Anglo-Saxon bucket which made £116,650.