he area is thought to have long been inhabited by the Tush, a subgroup of Georgians, which themselves divide into two groups- the Chagma-Tush (Georgian name, used for Tush who speak the local Georgian dialect) and Tsova-Tush (Nakh-speaking Tush, better known as Bats or Batsbi). It is uncertain whether ethnic Georgians were there first or whether Bats were. There are two major theories on the origins of the Bats (with various variations).
One is that the Bats are the remnant of a larger Nakh-speaking people. Jaimoukha speculates that they may be descended from the Kakh, a historical people living in Kakheti and Tusheti (who apparently called themselves Kabatsa). However, the belief that the Kakh were originally Nakh is not widely held. The Georgian name for the Bats, the Tsova-Tush, may also (or instead) be linked to the Tsov, a historical Nakh people claimed by the Georgian historian Melikishvilli to have ruled over the Kingdom of Sophene in Urartu (called Tsobena in Georgian) who were apparently forcefully moved to the region around Erebuni, a region linked to Nakh peoples by place names and various historiography. However, theories linking the Bats to Transcaucasian peoples are not universally accepted (see below).
The second theory has it that the Batsbi crossed the Greater Caucasus range from Ingushetia in the seventeenth century and eventually settled in Tusheti, and that they are therefore a tribe of Ingush origin which was Christianized and "Georgianized" over the centuries.
King Levan of Kakheti (1520–1574) apparently granted the Bats official ownership of the lands in the Alvani Valley in exchange for their military service.Bats-speaking inhabitants of Tusheti are known to the local Georgians as theTsova-Tushs, they have a high degree of assimilation and are typically bilingual using both Georgian and their own Bats languages. Nowadays, Bats is spoken only in a village Zemo Alvani. Anthropological studies on the Tsova-Tush found them to be somewhere in between the Chechen-origin Kists and the Chagma-Tush of the region, but significantly closer to the Chagma-Tush.
The Bats have considered themselves Georgian by nation for a long period of time, and have been speaking Georgian for a while as well. The process of assimilation of the Bats continues, but many Bats have held on to their language and spoken Georgian as well, accounting for the massive Georgian influence on their language. They are Georgian Orthodox Christians.
Pagan Georgians from Pkhovi took refuge in the uninhabited mountains during their rebellion against Christianization implemented by the Iberian king Mirian III in the 330s. Subsequently, they were forcibly converted to Christianity and subdued by the Georgian kings.
Regarding the relationship between the Nakh (Tsova) and Georgian (Chagma) Tushians, the "Red Book", states the following:
For centuries there have been two communities next to each other in Tushetia, one speaking the Nakh language, the other Old Georgian. The general name for them is tush, according to their language eitherTsova- or Chagma-Tushian. They formed one single material and intellectual unit with Old Georgian elements prevailing.The descendants of the Old Georgian pagan tribes, whose ancestors had fled from Christianity to Tushetia, are regarded as Tushians. In the mountains some of the fugitives splintered off from other Old Georgian tribes. They were in close contact with the Nakh tribes which resulted in a new linguistic unit.
After the collapse of the unified Georgian monarchy, Tusheti came under the rule of Kakhetian kings in the fifteenth century.