Malqata means “the place where things are found” and the site was well known as a source of many antiquities. The first archaeological investigation of the site was conducted by the Egyptian Antiquities Service in 1888 and directed by Georges Daressey. In 1901-2 Robb De Peyster Tytus, a wealthy American, along with British Egyptologist, Percy Newberry, undertook a season of excavation at the site. The work of the Tytus Expedition was remarkably thorough and careful for its day. A privately published report of the excavations with many fine, detailed renderings of the mural fragments that had been discovered.
The Metropolitan Museum Expedition excavated the site off and on for five seasons beginning in 1910 and ending in 1921 under the direction of Herbert E. Winlock. Members of the Egyptian Expedition exposed sections of the palace not excavated by Tytus and Newberry, and the remains of the palace enclosure that had not been destroyed by cultivation. They also excavated and mapped much of the surrounding area including the North Palace, several groups of private houses, a glass factory, a great “festival hall” and a mud brick temple dedicated to the god Amun. They also recovered a large number of inscribed potsherds, principally from wine jars imported for the King’s jubilee or sed-festival.
Later in the Twentieth Century, with growing interest in settlement archaeology in Egypt, the University of Pennsylvania conducted a re-examination of the site under the direction of David O’Connor and Barry J. Kemp. They conducted five seasons of work at the site between 1971 and 1977. They were able to determine that the town associated with the palace was far larger than originally thought and that the great artificial lake, the Birket Habu, was created as part of the overall design of the complex. They concluded that the great mounds of dirt that surround the Birket had been dug from the lake bed and were laid out and landscaped to create a beautiful waterfront and harbor for the palace-city.
In the 1970s, a Japanese team from Waseda University uncovered a bark way station, the Kom el-Samak, about one kilometer south of the Birket Habu. On completion of this, they moved farther north on the site where they have concentrated on the important task of preserving and analysing the wall painting fragments that still remain in the ruins of the palace of Amenhotep III.
Beginning in 2008 a new survey was undertaken with a view to protecting the site and to publishing the results of previously unpublished work. The Joint Expedition to Malqata (JEM) is a combined effort of the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University and the Department of Egyptian Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The project is under the direction of Dr. Peter Lacovara (Carlos Museum) and Dr. Diana Craig Patch (Metropolitan Museum). An initial season which ran from December 4, 2007 until January 3, 2008 conducted a preliminary survey of the area with the goal of assessing the condition of the mud brick structures and determining ways to to preserve and protect them. Eventually, in co-operation with the ongoing efforts of the Supreme Council of Antiquities of Egypt, it is hoped that the site can gradually be restored and opened to the public.