Prof Simon James


Professor of Archaeology

BSc, Ph.D. (Lond.), FSA

Tel: 0116 252 2535 



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. Currently as the School's Director of Research, he chairs the Research Committee.

He is a member of the University of Leicester-based team conducting the Leverhulme Trust-funded research programme on the Impact of Diasporas on the Making of Britain From 2010 to summer 2012 he was on research leave, substantially funded by the Leverhulme Trust, studying the Roman military base at Dura-Europos, Syria. His previous work on the military archaeology of Dura included identification of probable use of 'chemical warfare' during the final siege of the city c.AD256.

He is also now coordinating the School's involvement in excavations near Caerwent as part of the Army's Operation Nightingale, providing archaeological fieldwork opportunities to help injured soldiers in their recovery, and is now academic advisor to the UK's tri-Service Defence Archaeology Group.

In 2012 Simon was invited to become President of the Ermine Street Guard.




SJ contributes to a range of undergraduate modules, and offers a specialist final-year option on conflict, violence and warfare in Antiquity. He is Director of the MA Archaeology of the Roman World. For PhD supervision topics, and past and present PhD students, see Research Interests.


Selected Recent Publications  

Rome & the Sword: How Warriors & Weapons shaped Roman History, Thames & Hudson, London & New York (2011).

'Stratagems, combat, and "chemical warfare" in the siege mines of Dura-Europos', American Journal of Archaeology 115 (2011) 69-101. PDF

'The point of the sword: what Roman-era weapons could do to bodies—and why they often didn't',  (2010) in eds A.W. Busch and H.J. Schalles, Waffen in Aktion. Akten der 16. Internationalen Roman Military Equipment Conference (ROMEC). Xantener Berichte 16, 41-54.

Trow S, James S and Moore T., Becoming Roman, Being Gallic, Staying British: Research and Excavations at Ditches 'Hillfort' and Villa 1984-2006, (Oxbow, Oxford, 2009).

'A bloodless past: the pacification of Early Iron Age Britain', in The Earlier Iron Age in Britain and the Near Continent, CC Haselgrove and RE Pope (eds.), (Oxford, Oxbow, 2007), pp.160-173.

Excavations at Dura-Europos, Final Report VII, the Arms and Armour, and other Military Equipment (British Museum Press, London, 2004).

'Writing the legions; the past, present and future of Roman military studies in Britain,' (2002) Archaeological Journal 159, pp. 1-58.

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