James, a distinguished Assyriologist, held the Eric Yarrow Lectureship in Cambridge from 1955 to 1989 during which Cambridge became a leading centre in the subject.
He supervised several students who went on to hold major university and museum posts and who exercised a decisive influence on the study of ancient Iraq (Mesopotamia).
A gathering of Middle Eastern archaeologists, philologists and friends assembled to greet him on the eve of his birthday at a party hosted by the Ancient India & Iran Trust. A tamarisk tree was planted in the garden to mark the occasion.
James, and his late wife Helen, a poet, were regular participants in College life until the turn of the century.