Professor Simon James read archaeology at the London Institute of Archaeology, where he also took his PhD, by which time the Institute had become part of University College, London. He moved to the British Museum, first as an archaeological illustrator and then as a museum educator, responsible for programmes relating to the later prehistoric and Roman collections.
After a decade at the British Museum, he decided to seek a career in research and teaching. Having held a Leverhulme Special Research Fellowship at the University of Durham, he joined the School in January 2000, was promoted Senior Lecturer in 2002, and Reader in 2005.
In April 2012 he was awarded a personal chair.
A major theme in his research has been the military archaeology of the ancient city of Dura-Europos on the Syrian Euphrates. This became a Roman military garrison, which was besieged and destroyed by a Sasanian army c.AD256.
He has published the remarkable finds of arms and armour from the site, mostly belonging to the Roman defenders, but also including rare and very important early Sasanian remains.
Further related research into the siege which led to burial of these artefacts led to identification of probable use of ‘chemical warfare’ by the Sasanians during the fighting.
The evidence from Dura has led him to examine more widely Roman interactions with the Partho-Sasanian world, in both war and peace