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One of these styles, “phteas” Khmer, has virtually vanished.A photo dating from the 1900s shows the house’s high pitched roof.Brick and stone monuments can testify to the talent of its builders and artists, but barring a few details on bas-reliefs at the Bayon temple, little is left to show how people spent their days in towns and villages around Angkor.The jungle wasted no time reclaiming the land on which wooden houses were built and abandoned in the 15th century.In Kratie province, an area with few people and a great deal of forest, residents had the wood to build large houses, Hok Sokol said.In Kompong Cham, houses were smaller, but their beams and columns were covered with intricate designs carved in the wood, he said.The “pet” house, which has a four-slope roof and no gable, has been quite popular among Cambodians, rich and poor, Hok Sokol said.“I have not found any evidence that the style existed before the 20th century,” he said.
Last year, he joined the Center for Khmer Studies as co-leader of a three-year study program funded by the Rockefeller Foundation in the US.
Wealthy people tended to build themselves “rong dol” or “rong doeung” houses.
They sometimes are attached to one another, with the end of their roofs sloping to meet in the middle, Hok Sokol said.
One of its characteristics is a series of gables projecting over each other.
Besides these particularities, people have chosen one style over the other based on their means rather than their taste, Hok Sokol said.