The area is thought to have long been inhabited by the Tush, a subgroup of Georgians, which themselves divide into two groups- the Chaghma-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.[1] 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).[2] 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.[3][4][5] However, theories linking the Bats to Transcaucasian peoples are not universally accepted.