The history of Tusheti, which is the area of highlands and of difficult access, is less studied. The first scientific expedition here was organized in 1931. In archeological respect, Tusheti is almost not studied. From 1975, the archaeological expedition of Georgian State Museum headed by Rusudan Dolaberidze, Candidate of Historical Sciences, carried our excavations on ‘Nishtako’ hill located at the border of the village of Shenako. The excavations revealed a terrace type of settlement characteristic to the mountains and three cultural layers of different ages: of the I-III c.c. B.C., the III-IV c.c. A.D. and the VI-VIII c.c. A.D., and the materials of Late Bronze and Early Iron Ages were found on ‘Kurekhi’ hill. The monuments found as a result of the archaeological excavation are very interesting and important. The items of the Bronze Age found here evidence that this territory was already occupied by humans in the XXI-XXII c.c. B.C. Besides everyday items, there were cult ritual materials found here reflecting the beliefs and imaginations of old people. Those materials are now kept at the National Museum of Georgia.
The earliest historical data about Tusheti refers to the III century B.C., the period of reign of the first King of Georgia Parnavaz, the enlightener of the nation, and the first written data about the geographical settlement of the Tushs belong to Greek geographer of the II century A.D. Ptolemaus. Among Caucasian tribes he mentioned the Tushs, too: ‘There are the Tusks (‘Tuskoi’ means ‘Tushs’) and the Diduri (the ‘Didoels’) between Caucasus and Kervani Mountains.’ The academician Ivane Javakhishvili comments upon the Tusks as follows: ‘Tus(koi) is the right Greek word for Georgian ‘Tush’.’ As for the word ‘Tush’ or ‘Tosh’, it has no meaning of its own, but it is used by all Georgian tribes. The Lezghins called the Tushs ‘Mosek’, and the Kists called them ‘Batsuoi’. As the Tushs say, they were named ‘Tushs’ by the Lezghins referring to the word ‘Dusht’ meaning ‘Enemy’. The Kists referred to the bravest warriors as ‘Enemies’. This name may well be associated with a pagan deity of the Kists ‘Tushol’ regarded a deity of fruitfulness and worshiped by the communities of Chechnya-Ingushetia. It was Vakhushti Bagrationi to give the geographical-ethnographic characterization of the Tushs in “Geographical description of Georgia” (first half of the XVII century). As Vakhushti stated, the Tushs’ settlement here was the resulted from two circumstances: the Tushs having escaped from serfdom or enemies found their shelter here and those refusing the Christianity during the reign of King Mirian used to flee to these mountains. It was not until the IX century when the Tushs adopted the Christianity and since then, despite complex relief, they have had close contacts with the population of the plain, particularly that of Kaheti. The Tushs’ migration to the plain became more intense since the XVI century. King of Kahetians Levan II (1520-1574) was among the first kings to open the way for the Tushs to Alazani Valley. In The XVII-XVIII centuries, the Tushs greatly supported the kings of Kartli and Kaheti in wars. King Erekle II even had several Tush warriors at court as the bravest ones. Bakhtrioni Epopee (1659) is connected to the Tushs, and the name of Zezva Gaprindauli, the greatest hero of Tusheti being a real legend today is linked with the historical Bakhtrioni Battle. Vazha-Pshavela praises Zezva in his poem “Bakhtrioni”. After freeing Bakhtrioni from the tribes of the Persians the elder of the Tushs asked the King for a dwelling place as a reward. The King agreed, but under one condition – he would grant the elder the dwelling up to the point the elder rode his horse non-stop from Bakhtrioni. Zezva rode his horse until it fell down lifeless. The King gave these places to the Tushs. At present, this is the place where the villages of Kvemo and Zemo Alvani are located. One part of Tusheti communities started nomad life since this time visiting their old dwelling place in summer. Some communities did not leave their ancient dwellings until several decades ago due to different reasons.
At present, the Tush population is divided into two parts – Tsova Tushs and Chaghma Tushs. There was almost no difference between these two groups according to their ethnographic, everyday and cultural traditions. The only difference between them lies in language. The Chaghma Tushs speak one common language, which is the Georgian language dialect, which together with Phav, Khevsurian and Mokhevian dialects is linguistically united in so called Pkhovian group of the Georgian dialects. The Tsova Tushs speak two languages. They commonly speak Tsova Tushetian or Batsbian in informal surroundings, and they speak the dialect somewhat similar to the Kahetian dialect of the Georgian language outside their homes. This dialect differs from the Kahetian dialect by the vocabulary characteristic to Tushetian traditional life and fields of farming and by the marked intonation characteristic to Tsova Tushetian.