How can an exterior wall have mostly horizontal studs?

My contractor was cutting out a piece of wall to put in an air conditioner. Aside from some vertical studs for a window and at the corners, he says there are only horizontal studs. Is this possible?! This is a house built in the 1960s. I wonder how the walls even support the roof. Was this some kind of less common construction method, or a DIY project gone horribly wrong?
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