James came to public attention when he co-authored with Nick Thorpe a book that explored the problems of the chronology of the Mediterranean and Near East in the second millennium BC. The following years saw the production of an impressive three-volume work by David Rohl offering similar ideas on a New Chronology for the region. In fact, James and Rohl had collaborated until they had divergent views regarding the identification of the biblical Shishak, Rohl favouring Ramesses II, while James opted for Ramesses III.
James has been studying the Atlantis question since the early 1970’s. Paul Dunbavin recounts that James had originally favoured Megalithic Britain as Atlantis. Francis Hitching in The World Atlas of Mysteries notes how James calculated the date of the demise of Atlantis as 3600 BC. He arrives at this by accepting the commonly agreed date for the beginning of Egyptian civilisation of 3100 BC. He then adds the 1,000 years, which Solon was told by the Egyptian priests, was the time that had elapsed between the Atlantean Athenian war and then arbitrarily subtracts 500 years to compensate for an assumed nationalistic exaggeration of the Egypt’s antiquity; a habit common to many ancient kingdoms.
However, when he finally published his work on the subject he controversially offered a site in Anatolia in western Turkey as his preferred location for Atlantis. Unfortunately, he has been unable to obtain permission from the authorities to dig at the site and hopefully substantiate his theory. The book is supported by a website(a).
James was also highly vocal in debating the dendrochronological dating of the Uluburun shipwreck discovered in 1982 off southwestern Turkey. The initial date given was 1315 BC, later revised to 1305 BC but due to a lack of bark on the piece of wood tested a definitive date was impossible. Even if the bark had been attached it would still only have provided the date that the tree had been felled not the date of the shipwreck(b). Subsequently, the more imprecise radiocarbon dating gave a date of ‘around’ 1300 BC.
James is also co-author, again with Nick Thorpe, of Ancient Inventions , which is a 672-page tome that offers a fascinating account of the inventive capabilities of ancient civilisations. In this book he comments that “Plato’s yarn is largely a work of fiction” (p.455).